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Shutter Movie Review

Joshua Jackson plays a professional photographer who discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs he develops after a tragic accident

Shutter is a new take on horror.

Shutter is based on the 2004 Thai film of the same name and follows a young married couple in their travels to Japan where the photographer husband, played by Joshua Jackson, begins to spot a strange “presence” in his photographs after the two encounter a tragic accident. Rachel Taylor, the blonde Auzzie most noted for her role in 2007’s Transformers, plays wife Jane, whose stark isolation in Tokyo makes her the perfect victim of a haunting.

Jane does not speak Japanese, she is a bit naïve and she is an outsider in a very private community. Husband Benjamin’s new job is time consuming and he’s not around enough to help his despairing wife adjust to her new life. Ultimately, the physical distance between the two causes them to drift emotionally apart and the distance leaves room for a ghost to settle in.

As the story progresses, both Jane and Ben begin to see the ghost more frequently. But unlike other films of the same genre, the ghost does little harm to them. She is merely present. On occasion, she reveals herself to Benjamin as a sexual creature; she caresses his back and softly kisses his cheek. These sequences are more disturbing than when the violence finally ensues. Watching a dead girl fraught with black boils caress a sleeping man with her hair is far worse than seeing her angry.

The most unique element of this movie is that it uses intimacy as a subtle device to draw the ghost and the main characters together. The lighting is done in the normal shades of grey, typical of these films, but the difference is that the most vibrant scenes have the ghost in them. Normally, a shadow forms when the angry ghost appears; but in this film, the camera’s flashes highlight her features and force the audience to share a much more intimate space than is common in horror flicks.

The movement from scene to scene is also unusual. Rather than using a slow-moving camera capturing the short and unsteady breaths of the protagonists, Shutter is filmed in snapshots. At the climax of each scene, the movie camera simulates a quick-clicking photo camera that shifts between one angle and another. These quick transitions are off-putting — you never can tell when the ghost will move from outside of the frame to right in the face of the camera. And there is no knowing if she has come for a late night romp or if she is finally angry enough to start doing more than emotional damage.

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