Just when we thought we had seem them all, we just happened to chance upon a relatively unheard of Thai film going by the name of 'Shutter'. Prepared to be disappointed, we put in the disc, settled ourselves down and were promptly scared shit-less for the ensuing 90 minutes. Yes... this is the one which finally is up there with the Asian greats, believe the hype!
After being involved in a hit and run accident on a secluded back road, a photographer and hit girlfriend are haunted by the ghost of a young girl who first appears in his photographs and then in their home. Desperate to be rid of the menace they attempt to track down and purify the body in a hope to banish the spirit, uncovering the girls tragic past as they do so.
Oddly enough after reading my own synopsis of the movie I realise it comes across a little 'typical' of Asian movies, but rest assured the plot, whilst its true it is a ghost story, twist and turns throughout with a lot of new ideas keeping the movie feeling fresh and modern. The fact that the movie takes its inspiration from Thai ghost mythology over Japanese or Korean is yet another angle of originality. That said, some comparisons can be made with either Ringu or Ju-on, namely the Asian style of long haired ghost, but probably the biggest thing which 'Shutter' does have very much in common with both of these movies... it's very very scary.
Even before the scares start, and believe me this movie doesn't fuck around, the one thing you notice is that it is incredibly tense. This is probably the underlying reason for the films success, and a real credit to the film makers; creating and keeping an atmosphere this thick is an impressive feat to have accomplished. There are few lengthy introductions for the characters, in fact most of the pleasantries are kept short and sweet in the opening scene meaning that, from this point on, the screen attention is paid where it is needed, on the ghost and the hauntings. It is the nature of the scares which I found most original about this movie, which by merging techniques from both the orient and western cinema, made the film horrifyingly unpredictable. There are a really good mixture of the truly chilling elongated ghost sequences where, in true J-Horror style, the contorted body of the ghost lumbers towards the characters which cause all your hairs to stand on end, and the not-so-subtle western style 'jump' scenes which, when used effectively, as they are in this movie, cause some pretty involuntary body movements! The double whammy of effects keeps you locked in a constant state of terror.
The ghost herself is pretty grim and, as with the scares, is an amalgamation of Asian and Western style. Sure, she is very pale, has uber long hair and has unnaturally long and thin extremities, but this one is made extra scary with some subtle gore effects such as bleeding eyes and slashed wrists. The appearance of the ghost coupled with the sound, in fact, often the lack of background music, creates some breath-holding tension and makes all her appearances hideously effective.
Overall, I could ramble on about this movie and how there are so many effective sequences and techniques used to create what is an almost perfect horror movie. I mean that critically rather than enthusiastically, there really are only a few scenes which could have been improved on. This movie does exactly what a good chiller should do – scare the absolute shit out of you. The human body is amazing, and nothing fascinates me more than how it reacts under fear stress, this movie seems to encourage of the bodies automatic responses - some of the scares had my heart pounding, others giving me goose pimples causing my hairs to stand on end... all of them! I tell you what, if you have wondered what your pubes would look straightened out then this is your movie.