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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Shutter(2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun
Parkpoom Wongpoom

Starring:
Ananda Everingham/Tun
Natthaweeranuch Thongmee/Jane
Acita Sikamana/Natre
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Drunk and driving home, a kool dude photographer (Everingham) and his main squeeze (Thongmee) hit a female pedestrian and then run. The following day, they notice ghostly shadows and creepy faces in their photographs. A sign of impending doom perhaps? YES! Bring on the ghost girl and the Polaroid! IT’S TIME TO CRAP YOUR PANTS JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD TODDLER DAYS!
THE LOWDOWN
It finally happened! What you may ask? No, I didn’t take Mandy Moore out yet (working on it) and I didn’t meet Sly Stallone either (working on that one too). What went down is that I finally squinted my eyes in utmost fear again like a uber bitch while watching a horror movie. WOW! What a rush! I haven’t done that in eons! Thank you Shutter!

Granted, nobody can accuse Thailand’s answer to the ghost girl subgenre of having an original premise when it comes to the realm of Asian horror. It sported a plot that often echoed The Eye in terms of structure, a scene lifted off Ringu and a ghost broad that reminded me of the Ju On dame via her crawling around & stringy black hair. But what Shutter managed to do was transcend its familiar elements, add extra thick butter to the mix and give us one of the more chilling exercise of the decade. The fear set pieces at play here were this one’s strongest suit! I got money down that the filmmakers sat around a sedated hooker with a couple of beers in hands and came up with a list of 69 ways to scare people using photographs/cameras/Polaroid. Result, Shutter often showed-off ingenious and distinctive fear devices, using mundane objects that we all know so well against us. I particularly grooved to the "Polaroid-fun" which made way for some truly "brrr" inducing and gripping sequences. Oddly enough scare set pieces wise, the score blatantly telegraphed the incoming scares for us. Usually that waters things down for me but in this case, setting me up in that manner, inexplicably made the fear bits even more effective. A first for me!

The handling of the ghost chicka stabbed me in the gut the right way as well. As opposed to all of the other Asian ghost girl films that I’ve tackled, Shutter smartly injected two potent thematic ingredients into its veins; “love” and “karma”. Without giving anything away, I will say that the approach towards the specter evoked sympathy within me, hence making the proceedings much more engaging and dare I say…touching? I said it, grain it, roll it, smoke it and talks amongst yourselves. Finally, Shutter sucker punched my bamboozled face at about the halfway mark by suddenly switching from one narrative train track to another. I thought I was going this way but I was thankfully led in another ballsier direction instead. What followed was a smack down revelation that froze me in my seat like a deer in headlights and final frames that literally sent chills up my spine. It took me a while to shake those final images off! Talk about crawling under one’s skin, traveling to the brain and infecting it! NICE!

On the “bah” side of things, Shutter’s narrative felt too slim in places, acting more like a string of scotch-taped together fear hits than a strong feature length line. The questionable editing choices also semi grated me! Either some scenes were cut too short, therefore losing impact or sequence of events didn’t make much sense. The best example of the latter had the lead going to sleep on his girlfriend’s lap to then "cut to" them driving in their car on a rainy night. How did they get there? Why did they leave their apartment? Was it two for one at Dunkin Donuts or something? Who knows? Felt like a sacrifice of coherency in the name of putting us through yet another nail biting sequence. Hey, I’m all for that but at least make some kind of freaking sense to get us there man! 

As the end credits rolled though, I could safely say that Shutter entertained me throughout. It had me jumping in my seat like a grasshopper on speed with a firecracker up its hopper, gave me a major case of the heebie-jeebies and managed to totally shock me with its more emotionally layered turns. And I’ll say it again …man…those last frames…wow…they freaking RUINED ME! SHUTTER ROCKED!
GORE
We’re tossed: blood/teeth vomiting, slit wrists, self mutilation (nice one!) and random blood splashes. Not overly gory but highly efficient.
ACTING
Ananda Everingham (Tun) displayed presence, range and nuances in his performance, making his part a compelling one. Loved him! Natthaweeranuch Thongmee (Jane) was serviceable as the guilt ridden girl friend. Not only was Acita Sikamana’s (Natre) ghost girl scary as hell, she was also endearing. I felt for her big time!
T & A
The ladies get Ananda Everingham shirtless and we get a ghost girl that might remind you of your bitter and vengeful psycho ex girlfriend. I had Nam flashbacks over here!
DIRECTING
First time directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom handled their debut like champs! Ambitious shots, mood galore, striking visuals and a use of sound that has to be heard to be believed. Sure they went overboard in the “jack up the volume to scare us” technique but hey…it worked on my ass! NOTE: Somebody should’ve told the editors to EASE down a bit, they often cut scenes way too early. Let me digest what I just saw before moving on to the next sequence! LAY OFF THE COFFEE GUYS!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a stirring “piano inclined score” and a brilliant use of various grumbling sounds. Aces high baby! Aces high!
BOTTOM LINE
Shutter was the scariest film I’ve seen since The Eye and the spookiest sit down I've had in ages. Innovative, deeper than the norm and visually striking, it had me teetering on the edge of my seat the whole way! Sure the premise was derivative of others of its ilk and the film was cut a tad too tight/awkwardly at times, but the visceral audio/visual/thematic experience that it was, more than made up for its snags. See it, live it, fear it! And one last time for the record…those last frames…f*ck me man! F*CK ME SIDEWAYS! UTTER GENIUS!
BULL'S EYE
No great Asian film would be complete without a US remake on the way. Subtitle-phobics rejoice in knowing that New Regency has purchased the remake rights to Shutter. GROAN!

If LG knows what they're doing, they'll pick this one up for North American distribution!

Some of the “haunted photographs” in the film were supposedly the “real deal”.

Shutter was one of the highest grossing Thai film ever!

The flick was shot in Bangkok, Thailand

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SHUTTER SITE

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