It seems that Hollywood’s come to the end of their Asian horror remake kick, with the few last attempts at milking the once profitable market resulting in less than stellar box-office dividends and even worse critical reception. ‘Shutter’, the remake of the 2004 Thai shocker of the same name, is once such film now making its home video bow on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
Ben and Jane Shaw (Joshua Jackson and Rachel Taylor) are newlyweds en route to an extended honeymoon in Japan where photographer Ben is slated to shoot a lucrative ad campaign for some of his buddies he’d worked with on his previous trip to the country. As soon as they arrive, the couple gets into an automobile accident that Jane is convinced was a result of their car hitting a young woman crossing the street, but there’s no sign of any victim, so Ben and a shaken Jane are sent on their way. It isn’t long before Jane begins experiencing all manner of paranormal spooks and scares, while Ben finds his photographs ruined by streaks that his assistant says are a result of spirit photography; residual energy turned to light, and captured by the camera eye. Jane begins to investigate the phenomena, but, along the way, uncovers a dark secret shared by Ben and his friends.
Shutter is a regurgitation of pretty much every Asian horror convention that’s been introduced since Ringu. Once again we are given the ghastly dark-haired female apparition, some sort of electronic means through which she haunts her prey, and the obligatory hidden past/tragedy plot threat that gives the film’s antagonist a reason to haunt and kill these people in the first place. It’s completely unoriginal, but, then again, there really hasn’t been a wholly original Japanese horror remake since Gore Verbinski’s ‘The Ring’, anyway, so it’s almost unfair to expect Shutter to bring anything new to the table. Personally, I found Shutter well-paced, competently made, and moderately entertaining. Then again, I feel the same way about every episode of Scooby Doo, which Shutter isn’t all that much smarter than. Still, I can think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes, although I realize that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Fox presents Shutter in a fine 1080p 1.85:1 transfer that’s clean, vibrant, and as about as impressive looking as a film like this is wont to look. This isn’t a big FX flick, so not much about the image will knock you out of your socks, but what’s here is quite nice and defined, with excellent color reproduction, depth, and clarity. One scene in particular, in which Ben is doing an outdoor shoot with models dressed in colorful and complex kimonos, looks dazzling, and the image seems to jump off the screen.
The 5.1 DTS HD soundtrack is really quite impressive, with a lot of attention paid to the multi-channel effects and loud “stings” in the subs. Dialogue is crystal clear, as are the film’s creepy sound effects, but the underwhelming score (which sounds a lot like the refrain from the Halloween theme at half-tempo) sounds a bit flat and low in the mix.
Extras are all in standard definition, and include a trio of Japanese Spirit Photography Videos that seem almost genuine until the interview footage gives them away. There’s also “The History of Spirit Photography”, which is a serious (well, as serious as anything on this topic can be) exploration into the phenomenon, a making-of short called “A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan” that is fairly self-explanatory, a short interview with writer Luke Dawson, and a featurette about director Masayuki Ochiai. Some other odds and ends, like nearly 30 minutes worth of deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a feature commentary and assorted trailers round out the extras.
Shutter won’t win over those already jaded by the sameness of the seemingly endless parade of J-horror remakes, nor will it win the genre many new fans, but it’s certainly not the worst of the films to come down this particular pike. Whether or not it’s worth shelling out the dollars for an excellent HD version of a mediocre film is completely subjective, but I do have to say that I found the transfer very attractive and really enjoyed the thunder and ballsiness of the 5.1 DTS HD track. Fox, once again, delivers a superior quality Blu-ray release; sadly it’s for a somewhat inferior title.