Making the Grades
Asian interest in the paranormal has translated into a number of American film adaptations like The Grudge and The Ring. All of them focus on spiritual communication with the deceased. Unfortunately, these dearly departed are anything but happy. Dredging up all the usual elements of the genre, these screenplays try to scare viewers by letting the dead reek havoc on the living.
In Shutter, Benjamin and Jane Shaw (Joshua Jackson, Rachel Taylor) board a plane bound for Japan following their wedding. Ben has cinched a job there as a photographer with a top ad agency. Driving to their remote honeymoon location in the Japanese countryside, Jane accidently hits a lone woman (Megumi Okina) standing in the middle of a dark, deserted road. Yet when the newlyweds regain consciousness following the impact, there is no sign of the woman or any contact.
Arriving in Tokyo a few days later, Ben goes to work in the studio of the large, vacant office building where the couple lives--all alone. Creepy moans and fleeting images of the accident victim begin to haunt Jane from the start. But Ben, stressed by a disastrous photo shoot, refuses to listen to any talk of supernatural activity until their own pictures come back with the same faint, odd images that ruined his work.
Before long the apparition becomes more pronounced and increasingly aggressive. Showing up in dark corners and reflected in glass, the ghostly form, along with a musical score reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard, provides the film with all the obligatory jump scenes. However, even a visit to an expert in spiritual photography can't protect the two foreigners (or the audience) from the pernicious phantom who seems intent on disrupting the happy union.
Escalating violence consists of bloody injuries, suicide and a self-inflicted electrocution. As well, women, in varying degrees of dress and sexual activity, all get snapped by the cameras in this horror flick. Brief strong language and depictions of drug and alcohol use are relatively infrequent. Still the unsettling activities behind the dark secret in this film may be enough to make parents shudder at the thought of their younger teens looking through this lens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Shutter.
How do Eastern and Western cultural attitudes differ in relation to paranormal activity?
What might be the challenges of moving to a new country? What social and ethnical differences may a person experience?
What elements are frequently used in horror films?
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Shutter.
In Rear Window, a professional photographer confined to his room with a broken leg suspects a murder has occurred after using his high-powered camera to spy on his neighbor. A young boy sees dead people all around him, without the aid of a camera, in The Sixth Sense.