Shutter (2008)

Ah spring, a time of rebirth and renewal, of fresh starts... everywhere except at the autumnal multiplexes, where moldering cinematic afterthoughts go to die, dropping into theatres like so many dead leaves. Spring is the between season for movie releases, a span of time sandwiched between the winter, when Oscar contenders roll out, and the summer megablockbuster season. It is a time of movies like *Shutter*, a remake of a 2004 Thai film also called *Shutter*. A mediocre movie, and yet another remake dredged up from the apparently bottomless pit of barely distinguishable Asian horror films, *Shutter* is the kind of movie that doesn't justify the effort of putting on my glasses.

*Shutter*, by Japanese director Masayuki Ochiai, features the standard J-Horror tropes -- a dark-haired, dark-eyed female spectre haunts people, walking slowly, appearing mysteriously, and alarming her victims with her disheveled hair and unfashionable clothing. The unflattering frock is especially disturbing to Jane Shaw (Rachael Taylor) who, after running over a woman with her car, wonders what she was doing there, in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, and more importantly, "why was she dressed like that?" Jane's husband Ben (Joshua Jackson), who was looking at a map at the time of the accident, didn't see the woman in question, and remains skeptical that his newlywed wife saw anything at all.

Ben's a photographer who apparently specializes in obsolete photo technology. He's got an assignment in Japan, where he and Jane settle into an apartment where things go bump in the night. Really. You might think the things going bump in the night routine would be so used up at this point that nobody would dare use it in a non-parody context. But there it is. *Shutter* also prominently features mysteriously flickering lights and that whooshing-whirring-moaning sound that the weary, ticked off, evil undead make. *Shutter* makes use of so many familiar plot devices and even more familiar scare tactics that it practically parodies itself, except that it isn't funny.

When all of Ben's film is ruined by blurry streaks of light, well, that's the last straw. Ben has apparently never heard of Photoshop. Jane quickly discovers that "spirit photography" is to blame for the blurry pictures, and that she and Ben are being haunted by the Kodak moment-ruining, unfashionably dressed woman in the road. The only remaining questions are: Who is she? What does she want? And, who really cares? Jane learns from a spirit photography magazine editor that Polaroids can't be faked, so she takes to carrying around a Polaroid camera hoping to spot the ghost. I wonder if Polaroid considered the implications of the loss of this invaluable ghostbusting tool when they decided last month to stop producing instant film.

*Shutter* is so blandly by-the-numbers that it's difficult to conceive why anyone even bothered to make it. As Jane says, in a moment of insight about the ghost's intentions, "Why all that effort if you don't have something to say?" My thoughts exactly.