By Karen Benardello

Two Hearts

Cast: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, John Hensley, Maya Hazen and David Denman.

Original Release Date: In Theaters March 21, 2008

Scores: Technical: 70, Story: 75, Acting: 80, Overall Score: 75

Directed by: Masayuki Ochiai

The past always finds a way to reveal itself in new pictures. This fact not only describes the plotline in the new mystery/thriller movie Shutter, the remake of the 2004 Thai film of the same name, it also describes director Masayuki Ochiai’s attempt to bring interest back to the Asian horror remake genre in America.

With the help of well-known and -liked actor Joshua Jackson in the lead role and the executive producers of the critically and financially successful movies The Ring (the remake of the 1998 Japanese film Ringu) and The Grudge (the remake of another Japanese film, 2004’s Ju-on: The Grudge), it seemed likely before Shutter was released that it would be a hit. Unlike the plots of this year’s earlier remakes that focus on murders, including One Missed Call and The Eye, it looked as though Shutter had the advantage of instead focusing on questioning whether or not spirits exist. Its television advertisements and trailers promise potential audiences a similar plot to The Ring and The Grudge, both of which are about a deceased woman whose spirit comes back to seek revenge on those who hurt her.

Shutter tells the story of the beginning of photographer Benjamin Shaw’s (played by Jackson) marriage to Jane (played by Rachael Taylor in her first leading role). The two must cut their honeymoon short and leave their Brooklyn apartment to travel to Tokyo, where Ben has a shoot with his friends and co-workers Bruno (played by David Denman) and Adam (played by John Hensley). Before the couple leaves New York, however, they get into a car accident, during which Jane hits a girl and swerves off the road, crashing into a tree.

They leave for Japan soon after, where Jane must find ways to entertain herself while Ben works. So she has their honeymoon photos sent to Japan, which all are full of a mysterious light and translucent figures. Jane shows the pictures to Ben, who just assures her there is a problem with the camera, because it was wrecked in the crash. But she thinks the figures are of the spirit of the girl she hit in New York.

After fighting about it, Ben soon believes Jane after some of the pictures he took for his job come back with the same light and figures. She decides to go to the building that’s in the background of these pictures to see if the spirit’s presence is there. After taking her pictures there, Jane discovers the figures are of the spirit of Megumi Tanaka. Not only is Megumi the girl Jane hit in New York, but is also the girl Ben had a relationship with, and who became obsessed with him, when he first worked in Tokyo a few years earlier.

The main driving force that will help Shutter become successful is the casting of Jackson, who still appeals to the younger generation, to whom it is targeted to. But the movie does contain flaws, including the lack of character development for his, and almost all of the other characters, except for Jane. It’s difficult for viewers to connect to the characters when many of their characteristics, as well most of the plotline, are revealed in the movie’s trailers. As Shutter progresses, it also becomes increasingly difficult for the audience to fell sympathetic towards Ben, Adam and Bruno when it is revealed why Megumi is stalking them.

Screenwriter Luke Dawson, however, did make the right decision to develop Jane’s character the most, and Ochiai made a good choice in hiring Taylor, a relatively unknown actress, to portray her. While Jane tries to figure out why a spirit is stalking her in a strange and foreign city, the audience can relate to her; since many viewers may not be familiar with Taylor, it will be easier for them to imagine her as their neighbor, co-worker, friend, or anyone they know, and feel sorry for her, rather than a pampered and spoiled actress.

Shutter does have better attributes than this year’s earlier remakes of One Missed Call and The Eye, including a plotline that will make you question your psychological state of mind. However, it still doesn’t compare to the emotional scares that The Ring and The Grudge give their audiences. But with the help of Jackson and its PG-13 rating for brief sex, nudity, violence and gore, Shutter will likely become a modest hit.

Shutter Movie Review 2 Karen

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