I have no idea why it surprises me, but there's another goddamn J-horror remake. Except this one is actually a remake of a Thai film, but it's pretty much just a Thai rip-off of the J-horror style, and it's set in Japan (the remake, not the original), and there's not such a thing as T-horror, so "another goddamn J-horror remake" will have to do for now. Every damn time, I think "it's the last one, finally," and every time I'm wrong, because if there's one thing that the history of horror cinema demonstrates amply, it's that no subgenre is truly gone for good if there's a few more dollars to be wrung painfully out of it.

In this particular goddamn film, Shutter, Joshua Jackson (hey, I remember him. Where has he been?) and Rachael Taylor (hey, I...don't know her. Oh, right, the other absurdly hot girl in Transformers) star as Ben and Jane Shaw, newlyweds who run afoul of a dark-haired female ghost that manifests itself via technology. You know, that chestnut. In this case the technology is Ben's SLR camera, because Ben is a fashion photographer, returned to Japan for a job and honeymoon. Intriguingly, Ben not only uses the SLR for his job, but also for vacation snapshots, and all the Japanese people we see use Polaroids and Jane at first seems to have a digital camera, but we later see her with film prints. All this makes sense because Japan is a notoriously technophobic country, and therefore digital cameras are manifestly unknown on the island.

What happens after this is the same as every other J-horror remake only less so, at least in part because it stars Rachael Taylor and goddamn Joshua Jackson instead of actual famous people, like Jessica Alba. Oh God, I actually just wrote that sentence. But yeah, anyway, all of the normal ingredients are present: long-ass shots that go so far out of their way to make sure you don't see a character's face that you're just about asleep when the scare finally comes; pale-faced figures that appear for about one-eighth of a second, because that's "shocking"; lots of flickering fluorescent lights that go out just at exactly the right time; flowing gauzy things; a mysterious tragic death that everyone involved is too ass-stupid to figure out when the audience does, about three minutes in. I think if there's another one of these goddamn movies anytime soon, my review is just going to be a MadLibs template. I swear.

Actually, I should give the film some props. In that list of things that suck, two aren't quite right: first, one of the scenes where the flickering lights go out, there is a really swell couple of minutes involving Ben lighting his way with a flashbulb; second, I couldn't actually predict the film all that well - almost every single thing I predicted more than one scene out, I was wrong. This was largely because the film was stupider than I'd anticipated, but still. None of this is enough to make up for the fact that the film has at least two false endings, and at 85 minutes still feels half an hour too goddamn long.

The director, Ochiai Masayuki, is a bona fide Japanese fella, and he even made some of those J-horror films, not a single one of which I'm familiar with. They might well be brilliant - he wouldn't be the first foreign filmmaker to come to Hollywood just to be destroyed. I can speak only on the evidence of my eyes, and they tell me that Shutter is a pretty goddamn lousy horror film, more concerned with quick jump scares than anything atmospheric and long-lasting that has to build up to a slow boil. In fairness, the jump scares work, as far as it goes - they made me jump, anyhow, and that is where the name comes from. But J-horror, when it works (and it does work, or at least it used to, before there were so many of the goddamn things), works mostly because of atmosphere that comes to a slow boil. Ochiai's style is really just the stuff of slasher movies with the gore and psycho killer taken out, and a ghost and lots of empty rooms put in. So it's not actually like a slasher movie at all, but I can't think of any other horror subgenre that functions mostly as a litany of jump scares. You know why? Because it's a terrible way to structure a horror movie.

Anyway, don't go see it. I don't know why I did. Okay, it's because I'm a holy fool when it comes to horror films, but I don't know why I admit that I saw it. There's pretty much nothing appealing about it: the actors aren't interesting beyond their bland prettiness, there's no real pretension towards genuine scariness, and it's not even interesting to look at. The most exciting part of Shutter is that for the first time in all my years of moviegoing, the girl who sold me the ticket tried to talk me out of it. I can't think of anything to add to that. Except, of course, goddamn.