Shutter DVD Review

Written by Steve Pattee

DVD released by Tartan Video


Is she dead? – Jane

Directed by Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun
Written by Parkpoom Wongpoom, Banjong Pisanthanakun and Sophon Sakdapisit
2004, Region 1, 95 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on March 27th, 2007

Starring:
Ananda Everingham as Tun
Natthaweeranuch Thongmee as Jane
Achita Sikamana as Natre

Movie:

On their way home from a friend's party, Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) hits a young girl with her car — a girl who seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Jane's boyfriend, Tun (Ananda Everingham), persuades her to drive home, that it was just an accident, no need to check on the girl in the road.

Yeah, we all know leaving a body on the side of the road is a good idea. And, usually, that's all a ghost needs to make someone's life a living hell. Especially if said someone was the one who left her there bleeding in the street.

But, as Tun and Jane are soon to find out, this particular spirit's anger runs far deeper and far more personal than just a little road rash. By the time this ghost is through, Jane and Tun are going to wish they had just hit the girl.

Review:

It's been a long time since I've seen an Asian horror flick that truly scared me. The last one was probably Ju-on.

I, like many Asian horror fans, started to get numb to the "woman/girl with long hair sneaking about." It's not that I didn't like them, but it certainly got to a point where they were getting a little redundant. I thought they wouldn't get to me again.

I thought wrong. Oh, boy, did I.

Shutter has some really good things going for it. The first — which is kind of par for the course with Asian horror — is atmosphere. There are some really fantastic, dreadful scenes in this film. One in particular takes place completely in the dark. Tun, who's a photographer, is about to wrap things up in his studio after a shoot when the lights go out. Using some well timed flashes from the camera, and some excellent use of sound, this scene managed to scare the piss out of me. Yeah, dammit, I turned on the lights. And there are more than a few scenes in Shutter like this. Just good, well-executed scares.

And scares are nothing without story, and Shutter has no shortage of that. The story isn't built around the scares, but rather the other way around. Far too often, you see a film with no scares, but a good story, or vice versa. Not the case here. Even while I was getting the crap scared out of me, I was wondering why, oh Lord help us why, the spirit of this young women was coming at these kids so hard. And the pacing is excellent. It keeps you wondering right up to the very end. The best part is, there's no confusion when you get there. It's a straight story. Sometimes, as in the case of Ringu or Ju-on, you have to watch the movie again to fill in some holes (usually due to translation more than anything else). But rest assured, this mystery is straightforward and, not only do you not feel cheated at the end, you understand both the story and the ghost's anger.

 

 

But Shutter goes one step further. After you find out why Natre (Achita Sikamana), the girl who's haunting Tun and Jane, is all pissed off, the film closes out another, smaller, seemingly minor detail introduced early on. And, oh boy, it's a doozy.

The acting is great, too, with Ananda Everingham leading the charge. His Tun is slowly getting more and more defeated, scared and paranoid. You can see him losing more and more control as the movie progresses, and you begin to really feel bad for him. You want the Natre to rest not just so you can get some sleep, but so Tun can get some sleep as well. Everingham really gets you to care about the character.

But Natthaweeranuch Thongmee as Jane and Achita Sikamana as Natre more than get it done, too. Thongmee is excellent as the supporting girlfriend, and you feel so much sorrow for Sikamana's Natre as her story comes out. And this is from her acting alone, as she has very little dialogue.

Shutter should be in any horror fan's collection. While the long-haired haunt may seem passé, Shutter reminds you why it was so good in the first place. Great scares. Great story. Great acting. Great movie.

Video and Audio:

While Shutter's anamorphic widescreen presentation does suffer from some minor instances of grain, it's an otherwise crisp and clear picture. There seems to be an almost light green hue to the picture (think The Matrix, but not nearly as saturated), but it's obviously intentional and detracts in no way from the movie. The blacks are wonderfully dark, and I didn't notice any evidence of edge enhancement.

The past couple of Tartan releases, I've complained a little about the audio not being up to Tartan's standards. Tartan, I accept your apology. The original Thai DTS track is superb. I was a little concerned how the audio was going to sound as I was watching the opening dinner scene, but when the car accident happens, it happens. It sounded like the crash happened right in the middle of my living room. And don't even get me started on the aforementioned pitch black scene. Some words of advice: When you watch this movie, and it comes to that scene, turn off the subtitles. You will miss nothing important (unless you think "Who's there!" is important) and you will gain a helluva terrifying experience.

Thai 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby digital and English and Spanish subtitles are included.

Special Features:

  • Interview with Director and Cast
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Original Trailer

The interview with the director and cast runs about two and a half minutes and, while standard, is entertaining. There's nothing new to be found, but having enjoyed the movie, I found the interviews worthwhile.

The behind the scenes looks at three scenes from the movie and one strange thing that happened while on set. Each of these chapters runs about a minute and a half, and each is worth the watch. In particular the last, which talks about a strange photo taken on location.

The offered trailers, in addition to Shutter, are A Tale of Two Sisters, The Red Shoes, The Maid, The Ghost and The Heirloom.

Grades:

Movie: Grade Cover
Video: Grade
Audio: Grade
Features: Grade
Overall: 4 Star Rating

 

 

Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.

 

About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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