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By Steve Anderson | July 3, 2007

Normally, after getting a look at the cover of “Shutter,” I would be unnerved. Not because of the creepy looking ghostie-thing crawling on the ladder on the box art, or because of the downright unsettling ghost images on the back of the box, but rather because of its country of origin.

I have seen several purported ghost stories from Thailand, the film’s country of origin, and most of them have proven to be long, drawn-out, dull affairs with too little ghost action and way, WAY too much dialogue.

But “Shutter” proves quite conclusively that at least Wongpoom and Pisanthanakun have learned from the mistakes of the past. “Shutter” is freaky enough to compete with any of the biggest Japanese names. “Ju-On”? “Ringu”? “Shutter” is easily on par with even these pivotal titles.

“Shutter” starts out simply enough– Tun and Jane, our hero and heroine, go out driving late at night on a country road, which is horror movie for “plot bait.” They don’t make it too far before they run somebody over, and because there are no witnesses for miles around, they flee the scene. Back in their home of Bangkok, they begin to notice that, ever since their accident, life hasn’t been what you’d call normal. Mainly because no one has any idea Tun and Jane were in an accident– that pedestrian they hit? She’s not in any hospital in Bangkok. No one even knows anything happened. And worse yet, Jane’s having nightmares… and photographer Tun is seeing extra figures in his pictures.

This is where “Shutter” really shines. “Shutter” manages to develop the ghost story to a degree that it steadily grows more severe until the very end, which will prove to be just balls-out freaky. Tun’s photographs will alter themselves, only for an eyeblink, and then revert back to normal. The situation starts out so simply, both heroes and audience can almost believe they’re just seeing things–mere tricks of the light. Even I had to crank the rewind / frame advance combo just to catch a couple little tricks. But by the end, the severity will grow to such a degree that you know–inescapably know!–that ghosts are involved.

By the last half of “Shutter,” things will get so wild you’ll be forced to wonder what’s next, and “Shutter” will not disappoint. On a regular basis, you’ll see things that should not, CAN not, be, but they’ll be right there in front of you. And they will build to a grand conclusion.

All in all, this was great stuff. Thai filmmakers may well be starting to learn that the scariest films are often the films that let the ghosts do the talking. Even if that talking involves them running on the ceiling.

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