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Ghostly Presence on Photo: Horror Tsunami!

Posted July. 01, 2005 05:54,   


The movie “Shutter” (2004) is a total departure from the typical horror movies these days, and is filled with spectacular computer graphics and shooting techniques, and a twisted story plot. This movie, a Thai version of a horror legend and as its simple and clear as its title implies, focuses on the basics.

Photographer, Tun (Ananda Everingham) and his girlfriend, Jane (Natthaveeranuch Thongmee) unwittingly hit a girl with their car one evening on the way from their homecoming party. The rattled couple leaves her for dead, but her presence extends beyond their one-night encounter - they keep seeing the ghost - and Tun finds out that no such accident took place on the spot as he goes back there again.

Tun’s college alumni kill themselves one by one for unknown reasons, and ghostly shadows begin appearing on the negatives and prints of photographer Tun.

What makes the movie, “Shutter,” special lies in the “five percent twist.”

The movie literally copied the successful horror movie formulas by 95 percent for its storyline and images: There is the sudden emergence of a ghost from the car windows running at 120km per hour and the image of a ghost walking bluntly on the ceiling with her long hair down as she is hung upside down. There are typical scenes where a ghost appears as soon as one turns one’s back, or when the lights go on again after a blackout. The timing itself is easy to anticipate.

However there is the twist of the remaining five percent, which makes the movie seem fresh and new. For example, the main character suddenly looks up as he climbs down the ladder escaping from a ghost. But that is the moment when the ghost follows him down, hung upside down from the ladder! Such an “upside-down” scene makes the movie a tense and haunting thriller that preys on paranoid imagination and lingering fear. It is accompanied by sharp metal sound effects, making it even scarier.

As common as it may sound in horror movies, the ending is still scary where the ghost presumed to have fallen into permanent sleep was found out to be staying nearest Tun (use your imagination!). The movie “Shutter,” instead of showing unexpectedness, triggers fear by reversely realizing what is expected from the audience.

Nevertheless, the storyline is rather simple compared to the visual impact. A series of revenge acts by the ghost seem like an overreaction. That is because compared to horrific visuals depicting the ghost’s revenge, the story behind her (collective bullying and sexual violence) is explained in a typical manner.

The ghost Natre played by Achita Sikamana was literally a perfect casting as a ghost. She seems to have been born for horror movies as she looks a hundred times scarier with no make up before she dies than as a ghost. There is one scene lingering in one’s mind. It is not a gory ghost scene. It is a photo of the dead Natre looking indifferently toward the front. What is scarier than a ghost is a human being.

The movie had the highest viewership in Thailand last year, which was directed by new directors Banjong Pisonthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom.

To be released on June 30. For ages 15 and older.

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com