PictureThe first time I looked at Shutter's picture quality I thought “that's really good,” My first reactions were erroneous, if only due to a particular quirk. Colour is muted, intentionally, with reds being particularly saturated for the Darkroom scenes. I found very little edge enhancement and even less blocking. What is apparent is a variable level of grain. Some scenes are terrible, others near perfect. I thought that the idea was to create a “The Shield” documentary-type feel which is largely successful. The average bit rate is outlandishly high, certainly enough to engender a wonderfully sharp image, so the noise is surely intentional. Another quirk is a smeary picture. It is sometime since I have seen this on a DVD; it's as though too much processing has been applied on an older TV with contrasting colours not quite moving with the camera movements. I used to call it trailing because it looked like trails you can have on your mouse pointer (though not nearly as bad). This smearing effect makes the picture look very smooth, which is why I initially thought the quality was very good. Look for the crash where the doll on the rear view mirror is swinging front and back, you can see the edges of the mouth “pulse” slightly due to this effect. So despite the high bit rate, picture encoding seems to be flawed, spoiling an otherwise good image quality.
SoundSound is such a pivotal vehicle in horror, just about all good horror movies have superb sound and Shutter is no exception. The sound design is so beautifully tactile, so perfectly applied, that you can watch the whole movie without looking at the subtitles and still understand everything. Surround speakers are used with more verve than just about any movie I have recently heard. Locational spot effects are used very well, with doors creaking and crashes crashing all around adding to that disorientation I was talking about earlier. Strangely, bass, unless one is talking about the deep subsonic notes rarely imparts unease, probably because most folk, me included, have the kit to reproduce such tones. Instead, a much underused tactic is to smother the listener in higher frequencies. This was used to some good effect in Jaws when Robert Shaw dragged his nails across the blackboard. Therefore when Shaw's monologue ensues you are already unsettled, giving the scene more presence. Again in Matrix when Neo “swallows the mirror”. Shutter uses this technique so well, you forget about it and just concentrate on the movie, from the initial car crash to the sink scene in the dark room. Because of this reliance on treble, I found THX processing to be even less applicable than usual. When THX is applied, the sound becomes overly muted, robbing Shutter of its impact. Both DD and DTS tracks are well done, but DTS seems to have a clarity lacking in the DD one. The car crash scene, while effective in either case, lacks sparkle in the DD track.
ExtrasAfter an astonishing movie the extras are a real letdown. All of the extras, despite their different titles are basically a big “making of...” documentary that has been split apart. Some stunt examined in “Behind the Scenes” has the most candid footage, but otherwise, the content is woefully empty of interest. There is a camera shaped piece of card that has a red filmed “view finder” which allows a piece of the front packaging to reveal a spirit. Vacuous, but original. Also, all of the menus are in English, which is slightly unusual for a Thai native release.
VerdictOverall, Shutter deserves much more than is given here. Despite the relatively poor picture and limp extras, this movie is a class act and I would have no hesitation in recommending it. Just make sure the sound is turned up, preferably on something more than a cheap all-in-one.
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