A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past.
Within the smattering of Asian horror releases that arrived like a tidal wave of fear, “Shutter” (2004) was one of ones that carried a well known legacy of being frightful. Its later 2008 US version entirely missed its mark and failed to win over fans even with the inclusion of Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor. “Shutter” provides a perfect example of why some films “should” be left in the state that they arrive….effective, that is.
With a strong ghost story premise to back it up, the film takes on the subject of spirit photography and the enigmatic appearance of spectral images caught within the unassuming camera eye. “Shutter” begins as a young photographer and his girlfriend accidentally run into a young girl who is crossing the street one evening. Out of fear, they pull a “hit and run” leaving the body behind for another to discover. Though unjust acts have a way of returning out of pure bad karma. Tun, who is actively pursuing his photography studies begins to notice the strange appearance of a ghost images within his pictures. Some merely arrive with smeared wisps while others begin to capture a face. The face we learn is that of a returning spirit who was left behind.
Though this is only the beginning of this well written storyline. We learn much more about the nature of Natre and her relationship with Tun. Tun and his girlfriend Jane become haunted by the reoccurring spirit of the deceased Natre. Natre not only infects their photos but starts to materialize in odd places. As this progresses, we learn of Tun’s group of friends who are also ending up dead from suicidal attempts. Tun, who thought his past was left behind has to face his fears and his wrong doings now that a spirit has returned to remind him. All the while Tun and Jane are on a mission to get the full scope of what ever happened to Natre leading to some deadly realizations.
The movie visits the subject of spirit photography more than once, which to me suggests a strong interest in the whole field by the writers of the film. Thru investigation, we learn a bit about the market and how some images are faked for magazine sales. Though in the interest of respecting the unfaked ones, we also get a dose of realism on the matters.
What is unique here is the way they really say alot about the culture and understanding of death from the Asian point of view. It also reaffirms the nature of wrongful deaths and the retribution of scorned spirits. And speaking of scorned spirits….Shutter proves to be one of the most effective in this realm next to “Ju-on”. The appearance and materialism of Natre as a ghost is so well placed at times, it leaves a haunting residue after watching. The trend is kept pretty close to the rest of the white-faced brat pack, though its timing and execution that makes this a scary and successful addition to the roster.
Directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom demonstrate a deep undertaking of this concept. The final act with its paradoxal ending is so unique that is simply works to the understanding of the viewers by the time we finally get to it. “Shutter” has left a mark among the greats of Asian horror as not only a great story, but a scary one at that. Upon reviewing, I had seen this film a few years ago but didn’t remember enough to pull together my perspective. Even upon second viewing the jump scenes that I viewed before were still as effective and still well placed. In other words, I was re-startled which suggests a solid attempt at creating a film that lasts. “Shutter” remains a favorite ghost story and has been entered into my top scary films of all time. Upon writing this I couldn’t find any listed credits for the character of Natre. I suppose this was purposely done to keep her as an enigma.