I have heard through the grapevine (that grapevine being DreadIt) that when it comes to Asian horror flicks, the 2004 original Thai version of Shutter is incredibly scary. I am always eager and willing to watch Eastern horror for the reason that they often don’t focus so much on the slash and kill aspect, but rely heavily on disturbing imagery and psychological dread (excluding, of course, those fantastic Korean revenge films which are amazing in entirely different ways). The deaths are often more creative and strange, and I want strange when I watch a horror movie. Strangeness in itself can be pretty horrifying, when done right.
Unfortunately for me, I saw the 2008 American version of Shutter in theaters. While The Ring is arguably of equivalent quality to Ringu, and The Grudge is almost as good as Ju-On, the American version of Shutter (same name) stars Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame and it is just absolute garbage. The plot is the same however, which means that going into the good version I already knew exactly what was going to happen. The end reveal is much better executed in the Thai film, so I feel as if I lost some of the unnerving jolt of it by already expecting it. The image was already in my head, so seeing the image lost some of its impact.
The film is very along the same lines as Ringu and Ju-On, meaning pale girl with long black hair creeping around and ruining everyone’s day, but despite focusing on this same trope, the scares do work. There are two particular images that are extremely unsettling. The first is a jump scare, an unexpected movement in a photograph, that is startling because it has you focusing closely on a small segment of the photo before the movement occurs. The second comes from a series of photographs, much later in the film, and the movement involved in this one has quite a creepy look that is just fun to watch.
The scares and imagery, then: fabulous.
The plot, however, has some strange holes.
The one thing that left me confused and distracted for a large portion of the movie involves the car accident that occurs at the beginning of the movie. The lead male Tun and his girlfriend Jane are drunk driving and hit a woman, and when weird things start happening, Jane believes they are being haunted by the woman they accidentally murdered. Things are not this simple, however, because there is another woman who committed suicide, and that whole story is the majority of the movie’s focus. So, what’s with the hit and run earlier? The second woman had already committed suicide by the time of the accident, so did they hit this woman’s ghost? I believe this event may have sparked Jane’s discovery of the Big Horrible Scene that occurs later in the film, but that’s my one theory. If anyone else has any other ideas about these seemingly two separate deaths, then I would love to hear them.
Shutter is a good horror movie and it makes you jump. Those into more hardcore horror may be unimpressed, but a fan of ghosts and the supernatural will surely find themselves scared.
To be safe, as a general rule of thumb, I suggest watching the original before the American version, when it comes to any movie. Even if the remake turns out to be good, at least you’ll go into the original blind just in case it’s not.