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Sunday, 25 May 2008

Shutter

Shutter has a lot of problems, but let's start with just one: the idea of 'spirit photography' on its own just isn't that scary. So you can take photos of ghosts - you can take photos of teapots too, but that doesn't make them scary. And as for the idea that ghosts are all around us and we can only see them via 'spirit photography', this is supposed to be a horror movie. Just the idea of ghosts on its own isn't exactly breaking new ground in terror. Which brings us to the second problem this film has, namely the plot. On the surface it's not that bad: a newly married American couple (Joshua Jackson, AKA Pacey from Dawson's Creek - and Australia's own Rachel Taylor) move to Japan, whereupon the wife starts to freak out while the husbands work photographing models reveals both some ghostly photos and a somewhat sleazy side to his personality. And it's during those early scenes that this works at its best... which means there's the occasional tingle of mild unease. But as soon as it becomes clear that this haunting is happening for a reason all the tension drains out of the film. Ghosts haunting people for no reason is scary stuff; ghosts haunting people because they did bad things is basically a TAC commercial warning you not to do bad things. And that leads us to the third and biggest problem this film faces: it's just not scary. You'd think ghost photos could provide at least one decent scare - just show a happy couple all alone, they take a photo, then one of them walks off into the kitchen while the other looks at the photo and sees that it shows a ghost IN THE KITCHEN!!! But not here. Feel free to make up your own shutter-related pun to explain why this isn't worth your time.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #428)