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The Duke On “Shutter”

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Asian horror, in so far as The Duke would dare for even a second to venture, is the crack cocaine of contemporary cinema. Those first few cautious hits, those first whiffs of Ringu or Ju-On or maybe even the first forty minutes of The Eye, that shit gets a fella wired to the back of the nuts on nothing but glee and surprise and shit-yourself terrorosity. He stays up all night, contemplating the revelation he has experienced. He phones friends and babbles on in a frenzy of incoherent phrases and bizarre references.

Following these sense-molesting episodes, he finds he wants more, more you motherfuckers, and so scours the earth from here to Pluto in search of even greater highs and lows. Who’s gonna stand in his way? Who’s gonna slap him cross the eyes and say “Get the fuck out my crack-den you sonnabitch, you had enough already!” Who would wish to be so unspeakably cruel?

What happens is that the crack keeps flowin, a fella keeps getting the fixes. Here, man, try this shit, goes by the name of Kairo. Take a bag of this here Séance while you’re at it. How bout you roll up a twenty and snort yourself a skull-full of the Mermaid In A Motherfucking Manhole, too?

But it ain’t ever gonna last, man.

What happens is that it takes more and more and more for to get even a glimmer of the sorta hit administered when Audition shot its spunk into a fella’s bloodstream. Nonsense like Phone just ain’t gonna do the trick.

Maybe back in the day, maybe when a man was as high on the sense of discovery as anything else, maybe back then the likes of Dark Water would’ve had a fella clinging to the light-shades for fear of tumbling onto the jagged rocks poking through the carpet.

As the years go on, though, as the flicks come and go and the sight of a pale-faced lady clambering down the stairs becomes something to anticipate with contempt rather than giddy delight, a man finds the same old crack just ain’t gonna suffice.

Crack that may once have been deemed perfectly reasonable, that would’ve probably been welcomed with open nostrils, now it’s just another above-average hit, is all it is, pretty much the same as most other hits nowadays. Maybe it could’ve been a contender for Top Five Hits Of All Time back in the day, we’ll never fucking know. Now, though, it’s lucky to make it into the Top Five Hits This Afternoon.

And so we come to Shutter.

What Shutter concerns itself with being, is being a Thai horror flick directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom. What occurs herein is that a young photographer type and his girlfriend are being harassed by a ghost lady, a jerky-limbed, black-haired being who races around showing up in the fella’s photographs, making unannounced appearances in his darkroom, creeping around his bedroom, even running in front of their motherfucking automobile, for Gods sakes.

Keep the fuck off the roads, you crazy spectres.

Before anyone knows what the fuck could possibly be the reason for it all, turns out there were horrific events in the past that led to all sorts of tragedy and deceit, that skeletons in the wardrobe or whatever are banging and banging on the door the whole night through, and a man can’t get a wink of sleep. Shut the fuck up, he’ll holler, but in vain.

Things are probably gonna be put right, you’d imagine. Most likely it’ll all sort itself out, like those bills for 4,200 quid that you just keep sliding below the CD’s. It’ll all come right in the end.

Shutter, however, to its credit, doesn’t really have much truck with the kinda plot developments we may have come to expect in this, the 24th century. Where some folks might wanna string things in a nice bow and have folks learn lessons and have spirits put to rest, Shutter regularly takes the other road, the much seedier looking road that leads someplace much more unpleasant. It’s like those folks in The Hills Have Eyes. For sure, they could take the less bumpy route, they could maybe drive on up the motorway with maybe some Ice, Ice Motherfucking T or GG Allin on the 8-Track, but who wants to do that sorta safe-ass bullshit? Best take the road through the desert, and maybe get attacked by a buncha inbred savages.

I gotta be honest; had I seen Shutter a bit earlier in life, if it had maybe been made in, say, 1994 instead of 2008 or whatever the fuck year it was last year, probably I’d be announcing that it rules beyond all sense or sensibility. Most likely I’d announce that it’s the creepiest motherfucking thing I ever did see ever even once. Did you see where he developed the photo and then holy shit, there’s a pale-faced lass standing where none pale-faced lasses were stood? Did you see that shit? That shit was fucking terrifying, I’d be probably be announcing.

In the cold light of day, though, with a man’s perspective grudgingly dragged in the correct direction, what it all boils down to is that this flick what goes by the name of Shutter is a very good horror flick, sometimes an excellent one, but in the big melting pot of Asian Crack it ain’t really got anything for to have it stand out amidst the tonnes and tonnes of similar rocks.

Also, there’s the fact that the creepiest scene in the whole damn flick is something of a cheat, to be perfectly honest. What occurs is that our two protagonists head off to a magazine editor for to discuss the validity of the “Spirit Photos” he publishes week in, week out. There follows a seriously arse-troubling montage of such images, photos of gatherings and functions with barely-visible ghosties hovering at the corners of the frame, of folks sitting in automobiles with the face of dead relatives peering over their shoulders, of babies reaching up, smiling, towards a bizarre glow of some kind.

Thing is, all these photos, the exact same ones, are readily available on millions and millions and millions of websites offering Ghost Pictures 100% Authentic For To Freak Your Fucking Guts Raw!!! It ain’t a particularly hard-earned scare, truth be told. Fling those pictures onscreen in any old shite and you’re guaranteed a shiver or nine from the viewers.

However, take note of this nonsense, would you ever;

Shutter is the debut feature from these two fellas. For a debut flick, this right here is some impressive nonsense a lot of the time. There are some wonderfully bizarre characters, some genuinely creepy as molten fuck sequences. Also, despite the occasionally derivate nature of the proceedings, and the sense of been there, done that, shit myself couple times, had a fight and forgot all about it, the whole thing is pretty-much captivating throughout.

There’s a brilliant sequence involving taking Polaroid photographs of a room and nervously observing the results for to see if there’s anything in the place that shouldn’t be. This happens a couple times, and both times are easily as scary as maybe walking along a winding road someplace in the middle of the night and then a motherfucker jumps out the bushes and tries to carve your face off with a pencil. Scary shit, is what it is.

But it’s just really, really difficult for to separate Shutter from the reams of similar offerings. And don’t be thinking I don’t know how unfair that is, neither. I know, man, I’m hanging my head, is what I’m doing, looking up only occasionally for to check the spelling and so on. I’m in the confession box screaming at the priest about “Father, for the love of fuck, I just can’t take a whole lot more of these flicks about a scary lass with pale face and black hair pops up here and there. I’m sorry as a motherfucker Father, truly I am, but not for love nor money can I begin to pretend I’m shocked that a freaky lass is sitting in the corner of a room. I just can’t buy that shit no more, Father. It was effective way back when, when folks talked about Ring and not The Ring, back then when if you wanted to talk about Ring you didn’t have to call it Ringu. Back then, Father, back then it was new and exciting and fresh. It was a cold shower after a lengthy wank in the blistering sun, but nowadays it’s gotta be something really, really special. It’s gotta be a Ju-On 2 or a Tale Of Two Sisters, or maybe a remake of The Lawnmower Man starring Jeff Fahey as a pale-faced ghost woman who crawls around Pierce Brosnan’s cupboards, popping out now and again for to croak at him.”

Shutter is worth seeing if you want a really rather effective ghost flick, or if you just can’t get enough of the Asian Horror, or if, better yet, you’ve never seen one in your motherfucking life. I feel kinda bad, what with The Duke getting so heavy on this, and yet letting White Noise off so easily a while back. Maybe it’s cause a fella expects the likes of White Noise to be a load of old shite, and then when it isn’t, a man can’t help but be pleased as all hell. The likes of Shutter are assessed on much harsher criteria. It ain’t fair, man, but it ain’t fair that a lot of things ain’t fair. It ain’t fair that you can’t eat a bag of crisps (or potato chips, perhaps) when watching flicks in the middle of the night, since you have to keep the volume down and you can’t hear a motherfucking thing over the crunching. It ain’t fair that you have to suck the damn things senseless if you really can’t resist a cheekful of the Salt & Vinegar. It ain’t fair that man walks when birds can fly, a spirit lives man has to die, but I’m goin’ down in a blaze of glory nonetheless, motherfucker.

Thanks folks.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando

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  • Thanks Dave.

    Your best bet is probably ebay. I saw a couple asian VCD’s flinging around there with English subtitles. Failing that, i imagine a trip to the seedy climes of Bit Torrent Isle might be called for. Hopefully it’ll get a R3 DVD release soon, if it hasn’t already.

  • Great review, now where the hell do I get a copy to view, you evil tease?