We can even rank movies based on how much of Bill Murray they contain. For instance, The Man Who Knew Too Little gets a rating of five Bill Murrays, the highest ranking possible. Shutter would score zero Bill Murrays, except it constantly reminded me of movies that do have Murray, causing me to feel his absence all the more keenly. Therefore Shutter actually gets a score of negative two Bill Murrays, which is equivalent to pure cinematic sadness. In all of film history, there is nothing lower.
Well, The Eye was worse, and so was Pulse, but all these movies are the same. Shutter has a lot of jump scares, nearly all of them artless but still perhaps effective. The filmmakers are cheating, though, because if you suddenly blast a loud enough sound in people's ears, they're going to jump no matter what. The one good scare in Shutter is a rip-off of Psycho, and you can see it in the commercials anyway.
The closest Shutter comes to innovation is a new entry in the canon of modern horror film clich & eacute;s: the crunchy sound. In Shutter, it happens when a fly crawls under a dead girl's skin, eventually coming out on her eyeball. The crunchy sound is less noticeable than another constant horror clich & eacute;, the scary baby doll with missing or blinking eyes. Spooky baby doll expresses the idea that innocence has been corrupted nearby. Crunchy sound, being just a sound effect, isn't as noticeable, but it's in nearly every horror movie now. When you hear the crunchy sound it means that something icky is happening, and happening verrrrry sloooowly, possibly involving a corpse, or slimy tentacles, or something mutating, or maybe an evil robot. The crunchy sound is versatile. When you hear it, that means the sound editor has run out of ideas.
We shouldn't blame humble sound editors for being unoriginal, though. Why should they work harder than writers, directors or producers? That leads to the more pressing question of why we're getting our ghost story ideas from the other side of the world. England and Ramsey Campbell and M.R. James are closer, and they speak the language. Is there some larger purpose in remaking Asian movies with Caucasian stars? In Shutter and The Grudge, there did seem to be a warning that Americans should avoid becoming involved with Asian women because they're clingy, even beyond the grave. (That's one lesson from movies I plan to ignore.) Meanwhile, if there can be no respite from Asian ghost girls, I'd at least like to see one with a different hairdo. (Rated PG-13)