Film News

"Shutter" a bland horror remake

Actor Joshua Jackson arrives for the premiere of the film "National Treasure: Book Of Secrets" in New York December 13, 2007. Jackson plays star photographer Ben in the horror film "Shutter". REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The latest disappointing Hollywood redo of a J-horror film -- in this case, Thai -- “Shutter” demonstrates that the subject of spirit photography, which has been a point of speculation for more than a century, might have passed its peak.

After all, once we’ve seen ghosts emerge via videotapes, cell phones, computers and nearly every other technological device known to man, seeing them appear through Polaroids feels a bit retro.

The 20th Century Fox film opened at No. 3 at the North American box office with weak sales of $10.7 million.

In an homage to its Asian roots, the film is set largely in Tokyo, where star photographer Ben (Joshua Jackson) and his new wife, Jane (Rachel Taylor), have arrived for his latest high-profile shoot. Unfortunately, they’ve barely gotten to town before they have a serious car crash, caused by a mysterious woman on a dark, snowy roadway who promptly disappears.

Pretty soon the same apparition -- apparently seeking revenge -- shows up repeatedly in Ben’s photographs, wreaking no small havoc with his career. Things get even more serious when Bruno (David Denman), Ben’s boss, and Adam (John Hensley), a sleazy models’ agent, fall victim to mysterious attacks. The increasingly agitated Jane attempts to discover the identity of the malevolent ghost, but she doesn’t like what she ultimately finds.

Strictly perfunctory in its concept and execution, “Shutter” presents the usual series of spooky images of a deadpan female ghost showing up at odd times and moving in the slow, jerky movements that are de rigueur for the genre. Genuine scares are few and far between, and the climactic explanation for the ghost’s appearances comes as something less than a revelation. It must be said, however, that the final screen image, taking place in a mental institution, is subtly unsettling.

Jackson displays his usual likable screen presence, and Taylor manages to look absolutely gorgeous even while terrified. But despite their respectable efforts, “Shutter,” like the similar remakes that have preceded it, demonstrates that Hollywood might have gone to the J-horror well a little too often.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter