Updated: May 16
Written by: Andres Ramirez
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
Shutter Movie Review
It is rather ironic that the beauty or cosmetics industry is often so truly ugly. Be it documentaries about the real life troubles the passionate and dedicated models can face in chasing what is their dream (Ashley Sabin and David Redmon’s Girl Model) or whether it is psychological and horrific fiction films that descend into the industry’s dark heart by trudging through its black arteries (Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon), there seems to be a certain harsh or sinister reality that lies behind the lens. However, in the case of Shutter, the short film from writer and director #AndresRamirez, that is quite literal.
This very brief but artistically inclined story focuses on a police interview. As Mark (#JustinHernandez), a young detective, questions modelling photographer Charley (#JTHarper), who was the last person to see two young women before each disappeared. The story is simple and unsettling and it casts its eye on the animalistic and carnivorous lengths of some male gazes. As such there is an important story here but, commendably uncompromising conclusion notwithstanding, one that feels only part completed.
Taking some beats from Michael Powell’s influential 1960 feature Peeping Tom, especially in one feral and savage sequence, Shutter is certainly a work that succeeds in unsettling. This is thanks largely to the performance of JT Harper as the slippery, pretentious and cold “professional” Charley. But it could do with a further few minutes of development, explaining the freshness of detective Mark (solidly portrayed by Justin Hernandez) or the extent of Charley’s crimes(?) and past. As a matter of fact, the film seems to build strongly towards its climax but does not feel to reach a full conclusion so much as an ‘end of part one’ closure.
That’s not to say it doesn’t land its blow to the soul. If anything, it would have been better seeing more building dread and snapshots of the past before this reveal, as it would have made the uncomfortably realistic gut punch of this indifferent world going on regardless, the same things reoccurring and the victims being only remembered as things rather than people, all the more impactful.
Though with stylish cinematography by #AlexZajicek, effective set design by #XueTong and well delivered editing (which works in tune to the scenes and their situations) by Ramirez, Shutter is still a piece of work that captures your eye and creeps up underneath the skin. Especially in light of the era we currently live where many industries and some of their “respected artists” are being rightly unmasked as the monsters they are.
Shutter is a well crafted short that perfectly captures the dark side of a sometimes controversial, sometimes horrifying industry, inside of a brief but engaging detective procedural. With a bit more meat on the bones, it would have hit harder but as things stand, this is still an unsettling little film, well acted and with some noble - if bleakly honest - intentions.