(2008)2Derek ArmstrongGhostly images appearing in pictures are nothing new. Neither are long-haired, sepulchral Japanese women dressed in white, moving slowly and looking ominous (see The Grudge). Yet Masayuki Ochiai's Shutter repackages these tired horror tropes into something effectively chilling, despite the fact that it isn't the least bit new or inventive. Shutter feels like the latest in a trend that's been bled dry, namely, Hollywood remaking Japanese horror movies -- yet it's actually an update of a Thai film, directed by a Japanese director, set in Japan and featuring American actors. This idiom is certainly familiar enough, but setting Shutter apart is its relatively clean and straightforward script. Neither huge logical leaps nor clarifications of who's who/what's happening, are necessary to wade through its brisk 85 minutes, which leaves Ochiai free to concentrate on his eerie set pieces. Jaded viewers may find themselves embarrassed to be producing such a reaction, considering Shutter's massive debt to other films, but the fact remains -- these fleeting images in the "spirit photos" do leave a viewer feeling disquieted, and sometimes downright spooked. When the spirit, a lonely girl who stalked her unrequited love (Joshua Jackson), manifests herself physically, it's a bit more clearly recognizable as a hackneyed theft from the Grudge and Ring movies. But even if he isn't reinventing the wheel, Ochiai utilizes his familiar images as well as possible given our familiarity with them -- and thereby underscores what made them unsettling in the first place. Shutter will never be confused for anything more than an anonymous genre film with a generic title, but it's slightly less anonymous and generic than it could have been, which makes it worth recommending on some level -- especially relative to the other anonymous and generic options out there.