After À l'intérieur, I needed a little break before tackling the next Grand Guignol on my list, so I headed east to Thailand and checked out its most celebrated contribution to the genre. Shutter is yet another take on the potent theme of the Onryō, or vengeful ghost. Using a Japanese word to describe a Thai film isn't quite the misnomer it might seem, as Shutter--like many Asian horror films made this millennium--borrows much of its inspiration from Ringu, up to and including the way it saves its most effective scares for a devastating anti-dénouement. As its name suggests, Shutter goes much deeper into the realm of "spirit photographs" and actually has a more coherent plot than Ringu. As a result, the characters feel much more grounded in the action. That is to say, they are more than just unwitting witnesses to an incident already in progress, and I'll just leave it at that.
Shutter delivers some genuinely frightening jolts on a modest budget and once again proves that good camera work and atmospheric storytelling will always trump special effects in the scare department. In fact, there are no real "effects" in this film at all, just good makeup, imaginative use of photography, and a fiendish performance from it resident ghost, Achita Sikamana, who gives a whole new meaning to the word "creepy." It's kind of unfortunate that I watched this movie on the heels of À l'intérieur. Still in shock from that film's unprecedented assault, I found myself a bit numb to what might have otherwise induced a full-blown freakout. Nonetheless, Shutter gets an unequivocal thumbs up from me.
By now I should not even have to mention that the American remake of this film is not worth your time.
Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
My psychological status: