Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor
20th Century Fox
Haven't we seen this film before?
It looks so familiar.
Hmmm. Dark-haired, freaky lookin' Asian ghost-chick. I'd swear I've seen her before.
Americans freaked out by unexplained psycho-spiritual phenomenon. Sounds oddly familiar.
Ghosts with a grudge. HMMMMM. Now, then, I know I've seen that before.
There you have it. "Shutter" in a nutshell. "Shutter" is merely the latest in a seemingly endless line of Japanese horror remakes, this time the first English-language film from Japanese helmer Masayuki Ochiai ("Infection") and a remake of a 2004 Thai film by the same name.
In "Shutter," Ben (Joshua Jackson, "Dawson's Creek") and Jane (Rachael Taylor, "Transformers") are newlyweds who find themselves on a working honeymoon in Japan courtesy of Ben's landing a huge fashion-photo shoot in the nation. Not long after their arrival, the couple is on a coastal drive when a mysterious black-haired girl materializes out of nowhere and is seemingly run over by the swerving vehicle.
Or is she?
Of course, nothing is as it seems and faster than you can say "Polaroid One-Step" Ben begins to notice odd shadows in images from his fashion shoot. Rather naturally, all this spiritual warfare leads to anything but domestic bliss for the young newlyweds and Jane tops it all off by figuring out that the woman haunting them is Megumi (Megumi Okina, "Ju-On: The Grudge"). Megumi, not so coincidentally, was involved with Ben during a Japan trip a couple years earlier.
Again, I must ask...doesn't this all sound just a bit familiar?
While both Jackson and Taylor are functional as the haunted couple, "Shutter" barely evokes a shutter, wince or chill of the spine. Virtually every aspect of the film is workmanlike, but the scenes are shot so predictably with moments of silence followed by the obligatory quick scare that is never really very scary.
Much as was experienced with this weekend's equally lifeless "Drillbit Taylor," it's hard not to wonder if Hollywood hasn't drained the well dry or, minimally, simply brought too many J-horror remakes to the big screen in too short a span of time. "Shutter" never really distinguishes itself from the other remakes other than the faint awareness that it's the weakest of them all.
With bland thrills and predictable chills, the functional yet forgettable "Shutter" is one ghost story likely headed for ghastly box-office numbers.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic