[Screen It]

(2008) (Joshua Jackson, Rachel Taylor) (PG-13)

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Horror/Thriller: A newly married couple must contend with their discovery and subsequent investigation of ghostly images that appear in photographs they've taken.
Ben (JOSHUA JACKSON) and Jane Shaw (RACHEL TAYLOR) are newlyweds, but theirs will be a working honeymoon in Tokyo. That's because Ben is a corporate photographer, and agency head Bruno (DAVID DENMAN) and model manager Adam (JOHN HENSLEY) are awaiting his arrival for a big shoot. Set up in a building that's still under construction, they settle in to their living space that's adjacent to his set and darkroom. While he works with the aid of his assistant, Seiko (MAYA HAZEN), Jane plays tourist and goes off sightseeing.

Yet when she checks out her photos, she notices odd and somewhat ethereal wisps in her shots. He notices the same in his professional ones and attributes that to his camera being damaged during a recent car wreck they experienced. She, however, thinks there's something more to it, possibly involving the young woman she believed she hit in that accident. But with no body or any sign or report of any related injury at that event, Ben thinks she might be losing it.

When he finally encounters the ghost of Megumi (MEGUMI OKINA), however, he confirms that they're being haunted by her spirit. From that point on, Jane tries to figure out who she was and what she wants with them, an investigation that will lead her down a path of discovery she ends up wishing she had not taken.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Our new reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or are done so very late the night before they open) is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

While the Japanese setting and various Japanese characters might make one believe this is yet another American remake of a Japanese horror film, it actually comes from a Japanese director who's remaking a Thai horror pic.

Nevertheless, and despite some decently staged spooky and scary scenes, it's really just more of the same old, same old (ghost with dark hair haunting people with a message for them about her past and their present).

If you've never seen one of the American remakes of the Japanese originals, this might be very spooky, but the reuse of so many now worn out horror flick conventions and clichés means you can see most of the scares long before they sneak up on you and shout "Boo!" It isn't as bad as I imagined it would be, but there aren't enough original shudders in "Shutter" to warrant anything higher than a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed March 20, 2008 / Posted March 21, 2008

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