Shutter (2004)

This Thai film masters the terrifying elements we’ve come to expect in Asian horror movies. Creepy haunts from wronged spirits who appear in dreams, in peripheral vision and in photos. And the spirits are always crawling around and have blackened eyes that see into us and through us.

I thought this was going to be the Asian version of I Know What You Did Last Summer, because it starts out with a couple hitting a girl with their car, then panicking and fleeing the scene.  Soon they are haunted by her in their pictures. They are photographers. However, the story takes some twists as we learn that the male, Tun,  actually dated the girl. But their history is fraught. Natre was a nerdy secret girlfriend who, while a bit awkward, was otherwise pretty and supportive, buying him his first camera. But he continued to be embarrassed by her and perceived her love as clinginess so rather than man-up and handle the issue directly, he had his goon friends teach her a lesson. I don’t think he knew what they would do to her when they offered to “help.” But it’s clear he should have and really, when a group of males decide to teach a female a lesson, it, very very unfortunately, usually only means one thing.

This trauma led her to an overdose and now her spirit haunts the weak – minded, weak – willed Tun, who drove her to this terrible state.

The creepy is strong in this one. Every time I thought I knew what would happen next, I found myself surprised at the clever turn the story would take. And somehow the film evokes more than surprise but the deep, resonant pain of mistakes we can’t fix, that we are doomed to live with for the rest of our long lives. And it cleverly portrays betrayal as not just turning away from another, but turning away from what we know in ourselves.

Poignant and very well-crafted, it’s hard not be moved and troubled by the brutality of this depiction of regret.

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