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Monday, March 24, 2008


I went earlier this week and saw The Grudge 3 at the Essex Cinemas. Oddly though, I had gone to see Shutter. It just turns out they are basically the same movie, which makes a lot of sense since Executive Producers Doug Davison, Takashige Ichise and Roy Lee did back both The Grudge and The Grudge 2, and actually do have a real Grudge 3 in-the-making, which, I presume, is going to be something completely different than this faux Grudge 3 wannabe, Shutter, though I don’t see how it could be since this movie looks like all the others from this team.

I love scary movies, though I’ll admit that the last time I was truly frightened by a movie was when I saw Mariah Carey in Glitter. Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be a horror film, so I perpetually attend these frightfests in search of some vicarious chills that will come from real terrors (other than watching a size 16 diva squeeze herself into size 4 evening gowns). That’s why I checked out
Shutter in the first place, which advertised “The most terrifying images are the ones that are real.” That should have been a hint right there, since obviously none of the images in a movie are “real.” They are simply flickering lies projected upon a silver screen.

These lies, it turns out have a familiar Ring (another Davison/Ichise/Lee creation). A young preternaturally good-looking couple from New York, so recently married the wedding happens just
barely before the opening credits, pack up and move to Tokyo and into a spooky warehouse loft that also houses the husband’s photography studio. Ben Shaw (Joshua Jackson; Battle in Seattle) has gotten the job of a lifetime as an ad agency’s exclusive photographer, thanks to his friends Bruno (David Denman; Take) and Adam (John Hensley; tv’s “Nip/Tuck”), who have also moved to the Far East. All of this is trés cool for him, but not so much for his new bride, Jane (Rachael Taylor; Transformers). No sooner do the honeymooners arrive than Jane thinks she has hit and killed a woman with her car, though any trace of the woman seems not to exist.

Poor Jane is overwhelmed with guilt and worry, while Ben seems about as bothered as Simon Cowell towards the cast-off "American Idol" contestants as they schlep off-stage. Ben pretty much leaves his wife to explore the city on her own and get over any angst she has about plowing some random Asian chick into mystery-meat sushi. Yeah, well do you even have to guess? Boo! The dead woman from the road pops up like a Whack-a-Mole head at the country fair everywhere you look. She even makes a starring appearance in one of Ben’s perfume ads. I wonder if it was
Eau d’corpse.

Before long it seems Ben’s friends are not immune to the supernatural specter. She even drives one to pull a “Bill Pullman” straight out of The Grudge. I mean, really, I know writer Luke Dawson is pretty much a novice, but couldn’t he have come up with something that wasn’t already used in one of this same production team’s previous hits?

The most interesting thing about
Shutter is the fact that Ben and Jane seem so addicted to taking pictures constantly. I know that he is a professional photographer, but they seem to be loaded with throw-away cameras at every turn. I don’t even want to imagine what some of the pictures are they’ve captured in those lighthearted, after beans-for-supper moments. Perhaps the strange glitch they keep finding in their photographs they think is so worrisome isn’t so much a ghost as just extraneous gas hanging around due to poor ventilation.

The biggest mystery other than who this spiteful spirit might be has to be where in the world Ben is
getting all this Polaroid Swinger™ film? They quit making these cameras about the same time George W. gave up intelligent thought yet he keeps popping out dozens and dozens of these pictures in a row without thinking twice (or needing to reload the film cartridges). I don’t know. Maybe the ghost is conjuring up the film for a reason. Too bad she couldn’t do the same and give us a great script because I actually found myself starting to doze off several times, and if it wasn’t for the yummy popcorn I was munching down I’m sure I’d have fallen into a coma waiting for something exciting to happen. This bloodless deathtrap limps along familiar territory way too long before the climax comes to a way too obvious resolution.

Anyone who saw the preview to the movie was “treated” to a key moment that comes late in the film which telegraphs exactly what the major (well, only) twist of the plot is. Since the whole movie up until this point presents a story quite different from what is shown in the preview’s dialogue, for those who have seen the preview it must be a HUGE letdown when they realize early on that the tale they are watching in the full-length feature has already been “spoiled” by key information that means everything they are seeing is obviously being shown from Jane’s point of view only, even the scenes she’s not in.

I really did want to like Shutter. The poster alone looked like it would be full of shizzngiggles, but, alas, it was not to be. It’s a shame because Taylor and Jackson are both attractive enough performers and Taylor, in particular, has the acting chops that could get her all the way into Lohan or Anna Nicole territory. As for Jackson, as much as he has railed against his former tv success and insists he wants to put prime time behind him, after looking at his skimpy resume in the years since he left television he’d be lucky to point his canoe towards another “Dawson’s Creek” before he is Cursed with a career of nothing but straight to dvd stinkers.

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