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Shutter: Unrated DVD Review

Shutter movie poster Shutter

Theatrical Release: March 21, 2008 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: Unrated (Theatrical Cut: PG-13)

Director: Masayuki Ochiai / Writer: Luke Dawson

Cast: Joshua Jackson (Benjamin Shaw), Rachael Taylor (Jane Shaw), Megumi Okina (Megumi Tanaka), David Denman (Bruno), John Hensley (Adam), Maya Hazen (Seiko), James Kyson Lee (Ritsuo), Yoshiko Miyazaki (Akiko), Kei Yamamoto (Murase), Daisy Betts (Natasha), Adrienne Pickering (Megan)

Buy Shutter from Amazon.com: Unrated DVD • PG-13 Theatrical DVD • Unrated Blu-ray

By Kelvin Cedeno

Ever since 2002's The Ring became a smash hit, Hollywood has looked to recapture lighting in a bottle by remaking other Asian horror films. The Grudge (2004) also managed to draw big crowds, but it has been the exception to the rule,
as other efforts -- like Dark Water, One Missed Call, and The Eye -- have failed to cause much of a stir at the box office. The latest remake to join this group is Shutter, redoing a 2004 Thai film of the same name.

The story starts with two newlyweds, Benjamin (Joshua Jackson) and Jane Shaw (Rachael Taylor), moving to Japan. While driving to their hotel on their wedding night, they apparently run over a girl standing in the road. Upon inspection, however, no corpse is to be found. To complicate matters, only Jane seems to have seen the mysterious figure, not Benjamin.

Benjamin finally begins to realize something bizarre is going on when every photo he takes features a white, ghostly defect on it. Jane researches this and discovers that these images may be linked to the girl from the road, who continues to make apparitions to both her and Benjamin. The couple digs deeper and deeper in order to figure out who this girl is and what she may be trying to communicate to them.

Jane (Rachael Taylor) is slightly confused as to where the body she hit may have run off to. Benjamin  (Joshua Jackson) seems unfazed, but not enough to suggest actually looking under their car. The first of many spoiled photographs containing a light defect...or, of course, something else.

Shutter takes an interesting, if well-known, concept and does absolutely nothing with it. Having not seen the original feature it's based upon, it's difficult to say how this one compares. On its own, though, it fails to spark any sort of creativity. A drinking game could be made of all the horror clichιs that are present, and what's alarming is that they're not even done in a tongue-in-cheek homage sort of way. That approach would at least give the story some personality, something it's totally devoid of.

Actors Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor do their best to inject some humanity in the proceedings, but the script gives them little to work with. Both Benjamin and Jane lack any distinct characteristics and are almost written as the same person. As the story focuses almost exclusively on them,
this aspect mingled with a ho-hum story causes the 90-minute runtime to feel much longer. There's nothing presented that hasn't been accomplished better elsewhere, and the film's big final reveal can be figured out quite early and easily.

Shutter had the potential to be something unique and find its own voice. Unfortunately, it has little to no idea of what to do with itself. The characters are passive and unmemorable, and the thin story feels stretched beyond its point even at well under two hours. It's very possible the source material is far more haunting and noteworthy, but even so, this remake is utterly unnecessary.

Note that the subject of this review is the unrated version, which adds approximately five minutes to the runtime of the film's original PG-13-rated theatrical cut. Nothing on board seems like material brutal enough to originally merit an R rating. Most of the minor footage reinstated has been seamlessly put back into the third act. The original PG-13 cut is available on its own DVD, through the concurrent Blu-Ray disc features this unrated version only.

Buy Shutter: Unrated Edition DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, French, Spanish),
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 15, 2008
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 (Reduced from $29.99)
Also available in PG-13 Theatrical Cut DVD
and on Unrated Blu-ray Disc


Shutter is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced. Because a single-layer DVD-R screener copy was used for this review, image quality cannot accurately be commented on. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack wasn't as affected by compression as it sounded generally decent. This film is more reliant on dialogue than other entries in the genre, so the soundfield isn't terribly active. Dialogue and score sounded clear, however, and what few effects there were came across well enough.


Despite not faring well financially, Fox has given Shutter a solid collection of supplements. These start with an audio commentary by screenwriter Luke Dawson, production executive Alex Sundell, and actress Rachael Taylor. The three are obviously very comfortable in each other's company, freely talking about a myriad of topics such as shooting on location and what new footage is found in the unrated cut. Emphasis is especially placed on the story and the psychology of the characters, aspects that don't come across as well as on-screen as they obviously intended. This is a surprisingly good track for such a dull film.

In indie black & white, Joshua Jackson explains/defends why he became involved with this project in "A Ghost in the  Lens." Rachael Taylor and director Masayuki Ochiai communicate via a doubtlessly underpaid and overworked  translator in "A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan." An alleged spirit photo (with a conveniently placed spirit, of course) is displayed during "A History of Spirit Photography."

Next comes a featurette entitled "A Ghost in the Lens" (8:16). This acts as a sort of general "making of" seeing as there's no real focus, just disconnected comments from the cast and crew. While there's plenty of praise for the film itself, some good tidbits manage to be gleamed as well.

"A Cultural Divide: Shooting in Japan" (9:27) is much more informative. It discusses the challenges met shooting on location as well as little anecdotes.
The most interesting portion deals with the actors' problem of being directed by someone who doesn't even speak English, making the featurette rather unique.

"The Director: Masayuki Ochiai" (9:33) is a sit-down interview with the Japanese director. Presented with English subtitles, Ochiai explains his intentions in tackling this story, and even shares some supernatural incidents experienced by himself and his friends. It's admittedly a little hard to sit through, but useful nonetheless.

"A Conversation with Luke Dawson" (5:33) is done in a similar format, albeit without subtitles (lest the viewer turns them on). Screenwriter Dawson talks about how he came onto the project and what his methods were in adapting the original film into something for American audiences. There's some overlap with his remarks in the audio commentary, but new information thankfully emerges.

"A History of Spirit Photography" (4:49) does just what its title implies. Notable occurrences of the type of photographic phenomena found in the film are shown and explained. The legends surrounding such things are intriguing, but unfortunately, this runs too short to give a truly satisfying look at this paranormal history.

Now you, too, can create your own phantom photo to fool innocent people and cause Snopes.com to crash. A Japanese waitress is either seeing something supernatural or has never experienced modern technology  before in this extended scene. Benjamin and Jane are slightly obscured by reflective water in the red-tinted animated main menu.

"Create Your Own Phantom Photo" (4:00) is a curious extra. An uncredited narrator explains step by step how to use a photo imaging program like Photoshop to create ghostly pictures. It's a nifty little feature for those eager to know,

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but also in somewhat bad taste considering the film's subject matter.

"The Hunt for the Haunt: Tools and Tips for Ghost Hunting" (2:29) is an even odder and far more useless supplement. Animated text screens with cheesy horror music explain some of the best methods and locales for spotting ghosts. It's difficult to figure out just how serious the writers are here. Either way, there's nothing revelatory seeing as the "tips" don't go beyond what any horror aficionado would already know.

Finally, there are 11 alternate and deleted scenes (14:20). While a few of these make certain character motivations and links a bit clearer than in the final cut, they wouldn't have been enough to save the film from itself. Unfortunately, no commentary or introductions are included to explain why they were excised.

The disc opens with trailers for digital copies of Fox films, Street Kings, Deception, and Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. Trailers for Pathology and Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead are also included under the "Trailers" section of the supplements. "Inside Look" features a one minute and 44-second clip from the upcoming film Mirrors. No trailers for Shutter itself are included.

The animated main menu presents a red montage of clips superimposed over the water used for photo development. Each menu selection is presented over a Polaroid on the bottom of the screen. Submenus feature a similar theme, but are completely silent and static. They're all 16x9 enhanced while the supplements are 4x3.

Megumi (Megumi Okina) creeps closer to Benjamin (Joshua Jackson), but doesn’t look quite so menacing or different from her living self. Jane (Rachael Taylor) takes Polaroids throughout her home in hopes of catching her elusive ghost stalker.


Shutter does nothing to differentiate itself from similar Japanese ghost stories. It's dull, padded, ordinary, and worse yet, it's not the least bit scary. While a judgment can't really be placed on the image quality, sound seems fine, and the supplements overall are passable save for a few oddities. Still, this picture isn't worth anyone's time. There are better ways to spend 90 minutes in the realm of horror, and if one interested in the general premise would probably be best to check out the original instead.

Buy Shutter from Amazon.com:
Unrated DVD / PG-13-Rated Theatrical Cut DVD / Unrated Blu-ray / Original Thai Movie on DVD

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New to DVD: The Ruins: Unrated • Step Up 2 The Streets • College Road Trip • Stop-Loss • City of Men • Vantage Point
Vacancy • Dark Water: Unrated • Cloverfield • 28 Weeks Later • Sunshine • Poltergeist
Spirited Away • Eight Below • Shall We Dance? (1997) • Shall We Dance? (2004)

The Cast of Shutter:
Rachael Taylor: Transformers | Joshua Jackson: Shadows in the Sun • The Mighty Ducks

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Reviewed July 15, 2008.

Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2008 20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, and Fox Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.