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SHUTTER – Nathan Barr

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Yet another entry into the annals of the “American remake of an Asian horror”, Shutter is the Hollywood studio version of a 2004 Thai film of the same name. Directed by Masayuki Ochiai, it stars Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor as Ben and Jane Shaw, a newlywed American couple who relocate to Japan when Ben lands a well-paid job as a corporate photographer. Soon after they arrive, while driving down a dark forest road, hit and apparently kill a young girl with their car; later, Ben begins noticing strange white blurs in his photographs, leading Jane to believe that dead girl is haunting them through spirit photography, and may be seeking vengeance.

Nathan Barr is no stranger to the horror genre, having written a trio of surprisingly lush and elegant scores for director Eli Roth on Cabin Fever and the Hostel series. Shutter is more of the same – a distinguished orchestral horror score which greatly outclasses the film it accompanies. There are a number of quite excellent cues: the opening “Welcome to Tokyo” overlays an expressive cello theme with a modern electronic beat to excellent effect, the style of which is later revisited in cues like “TGK”, the espionage-esque “Jane Visits TGK”, and “The Whole Truth”, which presents the lush cello theme without the electronics.

To illustrate the more horrific elements of the story there are a number of wonderfully chaotic dissonances, in “We Hit a Girl”, “Fly in the Eye”, “I Saw Megumi” and “Psych Ward”, where Barr allows his orchestra to run riot, with deliciously devilish and impressionistic results. There’s also an unnerving whispering motif for the ‘dead girl’, Megumi, which appears to chilling effect in several cues, notably “The Spirit Room” and “Flip Book”.

The end credits song “Good to Me”, which is performed by Barr’s wife, Lisbeth Scott, has an appealing modern pop-rock beat which is very enjoyable; an edited version of the song features in the cue “Making Love”. Barr’s score is not available for purchase in stores, but can be obtained as a digital download from Lakeshore Records via iTunes, and it comes recommended to fans of contemporary horror scores.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Welcome to Tokyo (1:56)
  • We Hit a Girl (2:58)
  • TGK (1:37)
  • Making Love (2:41)
  • Alone in Tokyo (0:59)
  • The Spirit Room (2:27)
  • The Argument (3:05)
  • Fly in the Eye (2:31)
  • Visiting Murase (2:28)
  • Jane Visits TGK (4:30)
  • The Truth (1:54)
  • I Saw Megumi (1:57)
  • Driving to Megumi’s (3:19)
  • Rest in Peace (2:36)
  • Flip Book (3:21)
  • The Whole Truth (2:40)
  • Psych Ward (1:02)
  • Good To Me (performed by Nathan Barr and Lisbeth Scott) (3:23)

Running Time: 42 minutes 24 seconds

Lakeshore Records Digital Download (2008)

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