As promised in this post from Sunday, I've written up more of Joshua Jackson's comments from the SHUTTER press junket and posted them at Cinefantastique online. Below is an excerpt.
SHUTTER, the new film starring Joshua Jackson (DAWSON’S CREEK) and Rachael Taylor (TRANSFORMERS) is based on an Asian horror film, as is all too often the case these days. However, there is a difference from the usual remake: the new version is an American-Japanese co-production, based not on a Japanese film but on an excellent effort from Thailand. The screenwriter is American; the director is Japanese, and so is producer Taka Ichise, who gave us the original Japanese versions of RING and JU-ON, as well as their American remakes THE RING and THE GRUDGE. Like THE GRUDGE, the new version of SHUTTER places American characters in Tokyo, where they encounter a Japanese ghost girl who will not go quietly into the afterlife.
The premise this time is that the ghost manifests herself in on film, which wrecks havock on the livelihood of Ben (Jackson), a professional photographer. The ”Spirit Photography” is borrowed from the original film, but much of the plot has been refashioned to help acclimate audiences to the concept, which is more taken for granted in Thai culture.
Jackson explains, “When they sent out the script, they sent the original, with the instructions to watch the original, digest, forget, and then read the script. It’s similar enough that the structure is there and the thrust of the spirit photography is taken across, and we borrowed some of their better sequences. But because you’re introducing Westerners to Japanese-Asian culture, the first act and a half are radically different, because you need to introduce Westerners to the idea, even, of spirit photography.”
The Thai version of SHUTTER presents its Spirit Photography in a matter of fact way, although not necessarily as something universally believed. Perhaps the best comparison in American culture would be with UFOs - everyone has heard of them, whether or not we all believe they contain little green men from Mars. The remake had to take a different approach.
“When you have people in Thailand, they have the same basic cultural assumptions as the rest of the characters., so when supernatural stuff starts kicking off, whether they believe or don’t believe, they have a cultural understanding of it,” explains Jackson. ”Ours is the exact reverse of that, because we’re Westerners in Japan, Tokyo. When the supernatural starts happening, it is on their terms, and we need to be brought into their mythology. Because they’re Shinto - not Christian, Jewish or Muslim - it is a totally different underpinning for the Japanese than it is for Westerners.