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Thailand 2004


Banjong Pisanthanakun
Parkpoom Wongpoom

Ananda Everingham
Natthaweeranuch Thongmee
Achita Sikamana
Unnop Chanpaibool
Panitan Mavichak
Sivagorn Muttamara
Abhijati 'Meuk' Jusakul
Binn Kitchacho
Chachchaya Chalemphol
Samruay Jaratjaroonpong
Jitlada Korsangwichai
Kachormsak Naruepatr
Titikarn Tongprasearth
Achita Wuthinounsurasit

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Story: Tun (Ananda Everingham) is a photographer who is driven home by his girlfriend Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) after his best friend's wedding party. On their way home Jane by addicent hits somebody with her car. Being in panic the two drive away without even calling an ambulance. The following days Jane reproaches herself for her actions, and the incident even starts to drive a wedge between Jane and Tun.
However, things begin to get really odd, when Tun shoots some unnatural pictures at a graduation ceremony. At first, he believes his camera to be broken, but then he realizes that the white bands and the strange face on the pictures are actually the shadow of a ghost. Jane looks into it and finds out, that the ghost of Natre (Achita Sikamana) seems to be wanting to tell them something. After all of Tun's friends commit suicide suddenly, Tun admits that Natre was his ex-girlfriend, who just vanished one day. Tun and Jane visit Natre's old home and make sure that her dead body gets a proper funeral, so that her spirit can finally rest in peace. Nevertheless, Natre already seems to have found a new victim - which is Tun. And her spirit won't get soothed that easily...

Review: Sometimes it seems that it's not that difficult to take on a well-known concept and still don't just create a cheap clone of what's already been there, but in fact provide a nice addition to the horror genre. "Shutter" picks up the old horror tale of a ghost-with-long-black-hair and replaces the video cassette of "The Ring" or the cell phone of "Phone" with photos as a medium to create horror. For the audience's surprise this thai attempt of a horror movie according to old formulas actually delivers, mainly because it is produced with care and equipped with a nice story. Moreover, the film is also provided with some nice scare moments, that will make you jump from the edge of your seat. Even two years after I first watched this movie, it still proves to be superior to many other clones. Therefore, if you are searching for a good treat of horror without placing too much value on originality, then look no further.

Ghost photography has always been a fascinating topic. Strange shadows, unusual light stripes, reflections - this all has something mysterious and unexplainable about it, which can instantly put the viewer under its spell. "Shutter" knows how to make use of this fact and also succeeds in creating some nice creepy scenes, involving several scary photographies. However, these photographies just represent the medium, with which we are once again told the story of a revengeful ghost. Still, what's a welcome change is that the film does not simply aim at making its audience jump of their seat, but actually also wants to tell us a story, which is quite good in its own respect and even knows how to surprise us with lots of well-inserted twists. Furthermore, it's also something knew to see a male protagonist leading the story of such a movie. The leading character is especially interesting and three-dimensional as an individual, as his character shows a certain kind of ambiguity. Not only does he talk Jane into driving away from an accident site, no, after this he even behaves as if nothing happened. Thus, we wouldn't be surprised if we would discover similar character traits of him throughout the movie. Yet, in some way his character always remains charismatic, so that we can easily sympathize with him.

It surely didn't do the movie any bad that the filmmakers' choice for the main lead, at least in regard to the looks, pretty much seems to be the Thai version of Johnny Depp. As already mentioned his character proves to be surprisingly multilayered, at least as far as it concerns characters in a horror flick, and so there are quite some discoveries waiting for us to be made about his person throughout the film.
Jane, on the other hand, merely seems to be a part of the movie to get the story rolling at certain points. Nonetheless, we are already used to individuals like her who just serve as a cogwheel to keep the plot machinery moving forward in a horror film. Therefore, we are not really disappointed by the rather shallow portrayal of Tun's girlfriend.
What's really great about the movie is the twist throughout the middle, which makes you look at the film in a completely new light. At the end, there is even another all-changing resolution, that jumps at us very surprisingly and has to be called one of the best twists of the genre. Many of the twists are already hinted at as the story unfolds, but that's always the case in a way that you somehow never manage to think of it yourself. The finale is really well-made and proves once more that "Shutter" is superior to many of its rivals.

It's astonishing how great the movie's production looks like. You can't expect from a thai production to have the same amount of money to be spent as a Korean flick, or even a Hollywood movie, but still this film never looks cheap concerning its production value. Every cent has been put to use wisely. The pictures have a polished look, the editing is fantastic and even the score always succeeds in kicking in when it has to, thus playing into the hands of the horror moments. Moreover, the directors did use quite some nice camera tricks. One certain scene that comes to mind, is when Tun's friend jumps off a balcony and the camera follows him, seemingly without a cut, showing his dead body smashed at the ground. Which brings us to another strength of the film. "Shutter" never wastes any time by showing repitative scenes of Tun's friends getting killed by a creepy ghost, crawling across the floor. We just hear of the deaths on a side note. Furthermore, the movie is also full of subtle hints and clues, that will most likely only become apparent at a second viewing. For example: The way Tun's friends commit suicide is not chosen by chance.

With its tight running time of 90 minutes "Shutter" has a very good pacing, which never starts to drag unnecessarily. There is always something new to discover, the story is unfolding slowly and steadily, the two directors show a good eye for small details, and they actually manage to scare the living hell out of their audience. That is if you are not already immune to ghosts with long black hair, of course. From a technical point of view this movie is almost flawless and offers some nice, interesting twists. The story and the ambivalent main protagonist are good reasons to favor this film over any random "Ring" clone. As for my part, I was really surprised of the high quality of this thai production, as I was thinking in my naivity that this country could only make Tony-Jaa flicks with breakneck stunts. "Shutter", however, proves to be a very appreciated genre entry, that manages to scare its audience, as well as fascinate it with a great story. Thumbs up!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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