Shutter (film, 2008)


From Death Ray 10.

FILM THREE AND A HALF STARS

2004/97 mins/15

Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom

Writers: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom, Sopon Sukdapisit

Starring: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana, Unnop Chanpaibool

Top-notch Thai horror about a man, his camera, and a dodgy past.

The Thais are fascinated by ghosts, their legends is bursting with vengeful spirits, haunted houses and the like. One thing they’re really into is spirit pictures – supposedly real photos of spooks. This film takes this morsel of modern eastern folklore and crafts a perfectly decent shocker out of it.

Tun is a photographer with a pretty girlfriend called Jane. When they’re involved in a car accident, the panicked Tun urges Jane to drive off without checking on the victim. Things then begin to go a little strange. Tun is afflicted with a persistent neck pain, someone keeps coming into their apartment, but most worrying is the presence of strange shadows and wisps of light on a number of pictures Tun and Jane have taken both before and after the accident. It doesn’t take them long to work out that they’re being haunted, and the phenomena increase in intensity and frequency.

Shutter is a well-crafted little gem. Wongpoom and Pisanthanakum have a good eye for naturalistic direction, their depiction of a monsoon battered Thailand giving it a grey, ethereal beauty that is at odds with the image of a sunny holiday country we’re more familiar with. The frights poke through this mundane backcloth of drumming rain, chanting monks and radio phone-ins like sharp little needles, and the delayed shock for the characters of seeing the ghost in pictures works surprisingly well. If you were sick of pallid, black-haired oriental ghouls then this will revive your interest in them.

In fact, it’s a refreshing film all round. Too many supernatural horror films have overcomplicated plots that turn on the characters behaving like idiots. Neither is the case here, it’s simply an elegant tale of love, betrayal, vengeance and two people caught in a nightmare they cannot escape.

Did you know?

25-year-old Ananda Everingham is half-Australian, half-Laotian. His father is a photojournalist who lives in Bangkok. His dad rescued his mum from communist Laos in the 1970s (their story was dramatised as a TV movie in 1983). His parents divorced in 1997, and his father married a Chinese woman. Schooled in Oz and Thailand, Ananda’s one truly international actor.

A new version of Shutter is being prepared by Hollywood – the third take on this story, as it’s already been remade as a Tamil film called Sivi.

 

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