Thursday 26 June 2008

Shutter (2004)

After Ong-Bak and a couple of Pen-ek Ratanaruang films, 6ixtynin9 and Last Life in the Universe, I'm more than eager to watch any Thai movie that comes along. That's three hits in a couple of months for me, after what may be an entire lifetime of not seeing any Thai films at all. Definitely time to remedy that situation. And yes, this is yet another eastern film that gets a quick Hollywood remake. While it was made as recently as 2004, there'll be another version this year, and amazingly enough, while it's an American remake, it has Japanese names all over it.

The story follows a young couple, Tun and Jane, who drive home after a drunken meeting with friends and hit a girl on the road at high speed. Jane wants to stop and check to see if she's as dead as we can only expect, but Tun persuades her to drive on, presumably worrying about repercussions given that they must have been over whatever legal limit applies in Thailand. They only receive minor injuries themselves and nobody seems to be looking for killer drivers, in fact there doesn't even seem to be any evidence of a body, but something begins to infiltrate the photographs that Tun takes.

Now Tun knows what he's doing when it comes to photography so something is certainly going on, and it quickly escalates. Soon Tun and Jane see apparations of the dead girl outside of the photos, as if they're being haunted by a vengeful spirit. Given that this is an Asian horror movie, it naturally gets rather freaky. The Japanese don't have a corner on this market any more; freakiness has spread all across Asia like a virus. Visions appear and disappear, in bizarre ways, and it seems as if the girl that they presumably killed has something to say as she haunts them.

The story builds from a decent start, getting better and better the further it gets. As you'd expect, the effectiveness varies, tied often to the shocks. Some of these, especially early on are not that great, though the initial car accident is handled very nicely indeed, but like the story they get better and better. Particularly effective are the scenes with the sink, the side car window, the ceiling and the ladder. The flipbook concept is really cool too and the ending is powerful and unexpected yet very appropriate.

Ananda Everingham and Natthaweeranuch Thongmee are effective leads, but, as is so often the case, it's the girl doing the haunting who proves most memorable. She's played by Achita Sikamana and she has particularly expressive eyes. This was her debut film though she has three subsequent titles to her credit, at least two of which seem to be varied takes on the ghost story: Loveaholic and Ghost Station. The directors are Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom. Both co-wrote and co-directed and made a further ghost story called Alone.

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