Shutter (2008)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Alternate and Deleted Scenes

After so many recent disastrous remakes of foreign horror movies you would think that the executives who green light certain projects would get a clue, but instead they just keep cranking out these dreadful products, usually with mixed results, and this time we have more of the same.

Following in the tradition of terrible recent so called horror films, "Shutter" is actually the first feature length film directed by Masayuki Ochiai, and he certainly doesn't take any chances with it. It falls into almost all of the clichés that many of us have become used to with these dreadful remakes, including the most obvious ones of all.

The story revolves around a newlywed couple named Ben (Joshua Jackson) and Jane (Rachael Taylor) who decide to take their honeymoon in Japan due to timing; he is a professional photographer with an assignment there. After arriving in Japan and while driving to the honeymoon suite, Jane has a tragic experience while driving with Ben asleep in the passenger seat. Out of nowhere on a snowy road, a female hitchhiker appears and Jane drives right over her just before spinning out of control and hitting a tree, but strangely enough the body of the girl is never found when the police arrive.

Of course, when smudgy white distortions start to show up in Ben's photographs they realize that perhaps it is the spirit of the young woman they tragically encountered in the Japanese countryside, and after doing some research they come to learn that being photographed isn't something many cultures take lightly, but in fact it can actually be supernatural. It appears that the dead woman is trying to communicate something to our young couple, and the mystery is theirs to solve, as they try to come to terms with this spirit, some revelations come to light that will forever change their lives.

Although the scenery is quite interesting to look at (they actually filmed in and around Tokyo), the film is actually quite a bore, unoriginal and it just doesn't stand out. Another problem is that they don't spend enough time showing the scenery of Japan, inside or outside of the city. A remake of one of the highest grossing Thai films ever made, this version didn't reach any financial goals its makers may have dreamed, and it wasn't frightening in the least. We've seen this movie before, and yes once again we have the ghost of a young Asian woman who creeps up at the most inappropriate times for some cheap shocks. What is it with these films and the way they always have the creepy ghost of a young woman? It's getting tiresome. The director talks about the history of the creepy girl with long black hair in his very own special feature. I for one took little joy in watching "Shutter", the acting was shallow and I simply didn't get involved with the characters in any way, and that may be the fatal flaw of this film.

The image quality of the release however doesn't suffer the same fate, because the transfer actually looks quite stunning at times. It features an extremely sharp picture and deep blacks that add to whatever intensity the filmmaker was trying to convey, although the black levels do appear to be a little soft at times. And the picture isn't as sharp as many other new releases, I don't have many complaints. This release is on par with what we have come to expect of a high definition release, and it looks suitable as it fills the screen at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 50 GB Blu-ray disc.

And as we have grown accustomed to 20th Century Fox has provided a very rich and immersive 5.1 DTS HD Master Lossless Audio track that conveys a sense of doom and ghostly menace as the surround field is actually quite active. The dialogue is also always legible and never drowned out by an overly aggressive mix and the music fills the room. All in all this is a very fine sounding disc, and one that doesn't disappoint.

Surprisingly the special features are all in standard. We have a commentary from screenwriter Luke Dawson and actress Rachael Taylor, along with production executive Alex Sundell. The commentary is less than enlightening, and if you can stay awake through it, good luck. We also have five short featurettes that cover every conveyable angle of the production.

'A History Of Spirit Photography' examines the basis of the concept used in the film, it is about five minutes long. 'Ghost In the Lens' features interviews with the filmmakers and the main actor as they discuss what it was like filming the movie and some of the ideas that made it come together. 'A Cultural Divide' is a feature all about filming in Japan and is the most interesting of the lot. We also have a short interesting segment called 'The Director: Masayuki Ochiai' which allows him to speak for himself about his first major motion picture, of course, he is speaking in Japanese because he speaks not a word of English and had a translator all through production in order to make this American movie.

'Deleted Scenes' are about twenty minutes and offer nothing at all interesting to this 89 minute film and were wisely left on the cutting room floor.

"Shutter" is another unimaginative offering in the horror genre that doesn't need it, although it features a few effective thrills and all in all is a decent looking film it never tries to be anything more than what it is, an uninspired remake of a far better film. The Blu-ray edition does look and sound good enough but in the end that isn't enough to recommend anyone wasting their time on this one, and the special features are almost better than the film itself. You may want to rent this film if you are a die hard fan of the genre, but seeing this film again is enough to make me "Shutter".