Bad American remakes of whacky Japanese horror movies aren’t really my thing. (Sequels of re-makes are even worse.) Shutter though, staring Pacey and a blonde Australian, is surprisingly well made.

Pacey’s done well for himself since ditching Joey Potter (who wed-up to Tom Cruise – wow) and that loser Dawson (what happened to him, huh?); he’s now a top fashion photographer called on assignment to Japan with his gorgeous new wife. Following a creepy and horrible experience on a country road, they return to Tokyo, only to realise that they’ve brought something nasty back with them…..

So I actually liked this movie. Gasp. In the same way that phyisical defects were the visual clue for difference in Victorian melodrama, here it’s Tokyo; the young Americans are so clearly out of their depth in this utterly alien world, and the shock and confusion elicited by the unfriendly ghost is therefore exacerbated. It works. The young foreigners (well, Pacey and his Aussie chick) are believable (I love it that Pacey screams – since when do boys do that in movies??) and the story itself is not so other-worldly that you can’t happily suspend disbelief for an hour or so. It’s not a great film compared to, say, Out of Africa or The Shawshank Redemption, but for a film of its kind, it’s OK.

Shooting on location in Tokyo is reportedly something of a challenge, and in this case the production found a home at the Toho Company studios, where “Godzilla,” “Mothra” and many Kurosawa films were shot. Other locations included an abandoned hospital and empty old houses that provided suitably unsettling environments. Another key location was Mount Fuji, site of the pivotal car crash. I found more on the challenges of Japanese production here.