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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
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   Shutter  



 

Shutter

Reviewed by Sinnerman

Director: Bunjong Pisunthanagoon, Pakpoom Wongpoom
Cast: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Wuthinounsurasit
Genre: Horror
Country: Thailand
Language: Thai
Year Released: 2004
Rating: **** (out of four stars)

I still cannot shake off this film. I've gotta exorcize my demons. Must find the time to spew and slobber all over this soul shattering movie.

I often ask myself, what is it about scary movies which draws me in? That palpable taste of fear? A heightened rush of thrills? The strange allure of dread? Maybe, may be not. But I do know my favorite horror films share a common trait; the ability to blend aforesaid horror elements to further educate me on cinema's ability to articulate "desperate" emotions.

Shutter is such a movie.

However scary the "ghost" was in this film, I am infinitely more unnerved by the living's inner demons. I am affected by the nature of their fear, for not only is it primal, it’s impure. The impurities in question being a coagulated cauldron of rage, guilt, grief, barely flickering hopes and utterly abysmal despair. I fear for those afraid, because they know less than we do. Their doubts and desperate need for answers is genuine, whatever contrivances the genre may throw up.

I hence responded to the female lead's initial feelings at (the possibility of) having knocked down a woman. A very human evocation of guilt and unanswerable doubts shaded her fear. Her decency hence earned my empathy and as a result, I shared her trembling fear via such emotional mirrors.

I also felt for the male lead, for he knows more than his girlfriend does. He knows more about the mess in the present which has yet been resolved. He knows about secrets in his past which he thought was long buried. He also regrets for the mistakes in his life which he could never make up for. This helpless man has burdens on his aching neck and shoulders, and it shows... But he has also learnt (by necessity perhaps) to carry on with his life, by honing a "denial mechanism"; i.e., it never happened... All those regretful deeds will go away, if he does not think about it, does not talk about it or just plain forgets about it. Which may explain why he handled the "accident" with the same avoiding ways. All such unresolvable misgivings further complicated his present state of mind.

(Mild spoiler below)

Ok, this is gonna sound silly, but I feel for the ghost too. Oh ya, the ghost, I loved her so. And its largely due to a tender, bittersweet flashback sequence which humanized this very dead woman. That sequence, with a languid and soothing tone reminiscent of Last life in the universe, encapsulated the sentimental mood of an idealized, happier times, before its violently bitter end came clashing down. As more and more layers of her history were peeled off before my eyes, this film also put in perspective her vengeful being and the reason for her ferocious vendetta. Now seriously, how many horror film can succeed in making me root for the ghost of the movie? I felt strongly for a girl who's lived a tortured life. Here is a typical shy and awkward girl with an atypical beauty, the kind which doesn't blossom until one survives the harsh reality of her impressionably teenage years. She did not survive of course.

I am devoting one more paragraph to this very dead woman, for I have much to say about this character. I was blown away by the overwhelming intensity she exuded in enduring her physical/ emotional wounds. I cowered at her wild and dreadful ferocity in seeking vengeance in the hereafter. I thought back in awe at her calibrated sensibilities in delivering an unexpectedly moral justice. Most alarmingly, I am completely won over by her wildly abandoned outpouring of pure unadulterated love. Love, often celebrated for its power to create, is seldom trumped for its equal propensity for destruction. And here is a woman who's undying love for a man transcended the torturous life she had to endure, the vengeful afterlife her spirits have manifested and even a higher power's attempts in exorcizing her demons. Wow, it all boils down to LOVE! The sadly silly things we do, in life, as in death and depending on your beliefs, in afterlife too. By film's end, this notion stunned me beyond words. The last film to have championed something this pure and intense was the unforgettable Arturo Ripstein masterpiece, The Gospel of Wonders. To experience the same level of such exhilarating revelation in a horror genre pic, now that’s a rarity, and the very reason why I am trumpeting this film to sky high heavens.

I'm not sure if Shutter is still showing in the theaters, but if it is, I urge all who think it as just another scary movie to give it a try. Even if whatever I said turns out to utter bollocks for you, you are still in for an eerie thrilling ride. So take the plunge my good people. Hopefully, you will embrace it in love as wildly abandoned as this manic poster did. Or not. Oh well, bygones.