Sunday, September 19, 2010

SHUTTER (2004) Movie Review

SHUTTER (2004)

On their way home from a party, photographer Tun and his girlfriend Jane hit a woman with their car. Startled and afraid, they flee from the scene, and though they try to put the event behind them, Jane can not stop thinking about it. They decide to return to the scene, in hopes of finding out if the woman is alright, and discover that there was no reported accidents in any of the local hospitals the night of the crash.

When Tun begins to develop photographs he has taken since the crash, he discovers that all of his negatives are damaged, and some even appear to have the faint outline of a woman's face in them. Though no one believes him when he shows the photos around, he is certain that it is the woman from the accident. When the spirit begins to appear before Jane as well, nothing can prepare her for the journey she is about to take that will open up one of Tun's deepest and darkest secrets.

Coming from the deeply spiritual and superstitious country of Thailand, co-writers and co-directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom make a huge splash with their debut film that draws heavy influence from Hideo Nakata's original RINGU and the theory of spirit photography. It is perhaps one of the best, but criminally under appreciated, films in the run of Long Haired Ghost movies that permeated the late 1990s to mid 2000s.

The creative pair take what had at that time become a rather repetitive horror riff and breathed fresh life into by incorporated a much more archaic technology, the photograph, into the design of the story. Spirit photography has long been argued as a physical proof that ghosts exist, and we have all seen images in pictures at one time or another that should not have be there. Using this to draw the audience into familiar territory only heightens the tension and breaks down the barrier being fact and fiction.

The directing duo also tap into the time it takes to develop photos to draw out suspenseful moments to the point of nail-biting anticipation. Unlike more modern technology like the phone, video or even digital photography which has an instant connection time, traditional photography has a delayed reaction, as the film must be processed and developed. In several scenes in particular, a Polaroid camera is used to try and locate the spirit. With each shot, it takes a few seconds to learn what is on the picture, and each second is played into for maximum effect.

After toying with the audience's fright that the spirit is just on the fringe of the screen, Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom of course let the vengeful wraith loose and ratchet up the scares even more. The duo's ghost physically shares much in common with her Long Haired Ghost cousins of Korea and Japan, as well as her ability to terrorize Tun and Jane. As Tun and Jane attempt to put the soul to rest, the spirit shows again and again that it has no intention of going peacefully. Through a series of jump scares, ethereal music cues, and terrifying reality-bending, Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom use their natural ability to induce fear to propel themselves toward the final curtain reveal that will leave goosebumps on top of goosebumps.


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