I tend to approach the subject of remakes differently. Instead of instantly dismissing a film, I wonder what exactly will be different about the American version to warrant a new version.
There have been times when I’ve preferred the remade version of a film to the original. A good example of this is with the film Dark Water. I found Jennifer Connelly’s performance to be vastly superior. She made the character so fragile and broken that I sympathized with her throughout the entire film: even when she made questionably stupid decisions.
When I heard that they were doing a remake of Shutter, I was initially very curious. I didn’t really see any room for improvement over the Thai version and wondered what they could bring to the story that would be different enough to make me want to part with 10$ for a ticket to see it. I’m going to talk about the Thai version first and then branch on to the American version. I won’t spoil exactly what happens but some of my comparisons will include minor spoilers. I won’t say what exactly happens but I will mention that something does indeed occur.
In the original film, our main characters are Tun and Jane. Late one night after partying with some friends they strike a woman with their car and this sets everything in motion. Initially I found Tun to be a compelling character. I was generally unnerved at the things that were happening to him and Jane and was absolutely floored during the big reveal. Up until this point I had been rooting for his character, I wasn’t sure how the movie would conclude but I hoped that they would find a way to stop the spirit that was haunting them. After the twist, you hope for him to get what he deserves. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done an entire 180 in my support of a character but Ananda Everingham played the part perfectly.
Jane is our other main character and you never really stop rooting for her throughout the film. Natthaweeranuch Thongmee plays her as an intelligent and observant lead character. I want to call her “strong” but I feel it’s such a cop-out to just call a female character strong. We use hundreds of words to describe male characters but female characters are relegated to being strong, annoying or bitchy. Anyway, her character is a perfect mix of dedicated wife and independent thinker.
I believe Shutter was the last film that actually made me jump at some points as well. It was shot really well and the scares always felt genuine. When Natre(ghost) shows up, you always feel like the main characters are in danger.
It opens up in America with our characters Ben and Jane getting married before moving to Japan. I appreciated that they still attempted to keep the film set in Asia but found no reason why they changed Thailand to Japan.
Perhaps it’s the bias of already knowing the twist but I couldn’t get in to this version at all.
I found that Joshua Jackson was completely unlikeable in the main role. From the opening scene it felt like Joshua Jackson was telegraphing a huge plot twist. His character comes off as dismissive and slightly arrogant. It’s interesting that I had a completely different view of his character because the script is very similar at times. I’m not a Joshua Jackson hater either. I’m Canadian and will back-hand anybody that says a bad word about the Mighty Ducks movies; even the one where they should get disqualified for coming out in different uniforms for the third period.
I also didn’t like Rachael Taylor as Jane. Every compliment I have for the way she was portrayed by Ms.Thongmee pretty much disappears. She has zero chemistry with Joshua Jackson and there’s a complete lack of conviction in her few final scenes. It’s a flat performance and it didn’t really do anything for me.
I did want to like this movie. I enjoyed the cinematography and the score. I was happy that they stayed so close to the source material and didn’t make any completely unnecessary changes to pander to a North American audience. The performances are the main thing that hurt this movie. If you’re going to watch it, I suggest seeing this version before you watch the Thai one, otherwise there’s pretty much no point.