A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this horror movie includes some graphic violence, including the bloody effects of a ghost's assaults on victims. There's also a jarring car accident; a leap from a balcony that has a hard, bloody ending on the sidewalk; and a camera eyepiece that pierces a character's eye. The ghost appears repeatedly in shadows and scares people. A sexual assault appears in photos and a flashback scene. The movie also includes some sexual imagery, showing women in bras and panties, as well as naked backs. There's some language and drinking, and a scene shows men agreeing to put a date-rape drug in a woman's wine.
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What's the story?
Bad things always seem to happen to unsuspecting blonde girls when they head East in remakes of Asian Extreme horror movies. SHUTTER -- a remake of a 2004 Thai movie -- is no exception, focusing on the haunting of Jane (Rachael Taylor) by a young Japanese woman's ghost. At first Jane thinks she killed Megumi (Megumi Okina) when she hit her with a car, but she can't convince her photographer husband, Ben (Joshua Jackson), that the accident even happened. It's a rough start to their honeymoon in Tokyo; soon Jane -- a plucky American feeling alienated in the city's crowded streets and neon signage -- starts investigating on her own. And when white blurs start appearing in Ben's photos, Jane researches "spirit photos," which an expert tells her show "strong emotions making themselves heard."
Is it any good?
Shifting the location to Tokyo and setting Caucasian stars against a Japanese ghost (the original features all Thai characters) changes the movie's haunting dynamic. On one level it's yet another instance of a white woman stalked by a vengeful Asian ghost. But on another, as Jane comes to understand the reasons for Megumi's anger, the women realize a shared grievance premised on gender imbalance and sexual abuses. It's hardly revolutionary for a scary movie to have a Caucasian woman wandering frightened through Tokyo, harassed by some supernatural phenomenon. But Shutter is almost perversely upfront in connecting privileged, self-justifying Caucasian men with the problem at its core.
And yet, despite this potential complexity, the movie lapses repeatedly into tired conventions. The "scares" are bloody but not very clever, the plot increasingly silly. In part this is a function of lapses in the script, as explanatory scenes pop up in strange places and a voiceover fills in for scenes missing altogether. Jane's plucky resilience makes her sympathetic, and when at last she literally leaves the movie before its end, you admire her sudden good judgment and wish her well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie is similar to and different from other horror films based on Asian originals. What do these movies tend to have in common? What makes this one different? Families can also discuss how the movie uses both technology and legends to create suspense.
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