Movie Review: Shutter (They are Around Us)

If you’re ever visiting an Asian country, beware of vengeful pale women or little girls with runny mascara and long black hair. They seem to be all over the place these days, with a morbid fascination for multimedia. They’re making prank phone-calls, showing up in the static on your tv, ghoulishly abusing the internet or haunting videotapes.

In Shutter, one of these specimens is getting freaky with photographs and generally messing with the perception of the recently graduated youngsters she terrorises. They might actually be to blame for her current deceased condition – or not. I don’t want to spoil the plot and going by this little genre, ghosts don’t always need a reason to pick a specific person. Sometimes they are just mean, dead, pissed off and lashing out at whoever crosses their path. In this case, a photograph-happy couple with their own darkroom becomes the focal point for the apparition’s anger.

There isn’t much new about Shutter. The mood is quiet and morose, the colours are a bit drained and the lighting – or lack of it – is impeccable. Occasionally there is a jump scare with a loud musical cue. The frequency of these increases near the end until both you and the characters get very edgy because any one break in a shot could mean a sudden cut to a scary face appearing into frame. It’s only this none-too-subtle ‘boo’ factor that keeps things from getting boring. There is also a neat, creepy twist at the ending, but it’s one of those that does not make a whole lot of sense looking back on the rest of the movie. Mostly recommended if you haven’t seen many of these ‘creepy girl’ movies or if you are next to a date who scares easily and who you want to grab you tight. Shutter is currently being remade in the US, headlining Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame.

Shutter (They Are Around Us), 2004, 97 min. Thailand. Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom. Starring: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana.

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