“Shutter” (Shriekfest 2016): Opportunity Knocks When a Murderer Strikes in German Thriller Short

Mark (Matthias Brueggenolte) is a young man who wishes to become a professional photographer, and pictures from the scene of a murder that he witnessed may be the key to landing just such a job in director/writer/producer Robert Mueller’s grue-filled short thriller Shutter (Germany, 2015).

A secretary (Leni Speidel) assists Mark with his appointment to interview with an executive editor (Caroline Stahler) who initially seems to have little time or patience for him. He recounts his tale of how, while stopping at a gas station the night before, he meets Rebecca (Geneviève Boehmer), a young woman who, like him, is driving solo through the area. After sharing cigarettes and a few friendly words, the two go their separate ways at the station. When Mark uses the restroom a few minutes later, he finds himself witnessing a grisly murder scene. He snaps some graphic photos and takes his leave. Readers will have to see for themselves what happens beyond what I have synopsized here.

A secretary (Leni Speidel) introduces would-be professional photographer (Matthias Brueggenolte) to an editor (Caroline Stahler) in Robert Mueller’s short thriller Shutter.

Shutter works as both as a horror thriller about a man who witnessed a brutal killing and a character study of how far a person will go to land his dream job. Robert Mueller paces his six-minute film keenly, combining cogent storytelling with disquieting images. A scene in the bathroom with the sight and sound of flickering lights is just one example of his ability to create unsettling moments.

Matthias Brueggenolte gives a multilayered performance as Mark, a man who seems rather collected for his job interview considering what he went through the previous night. His expressions of fear and concern during his flashbacks as he recounts the incident to the editor are impressive. Geneviève Boehmer is charming as Rebecca, while Caroline Stahler infuses her editor character with a cold, distanced personality.

Geneviève Boehmer plays Rebecca, a stranger who meets Mark mere minutes before he witnesses a brutal murder.

Lisa Schmermer handled the special effects make-up for Shutter and did a sound job, providing some nasty-looking wounds on the murder victim. Composer Roland Mair-Gruber’s score lends a chilling tone that adds to the short’s tension wonderfully. Tobias Linden’s cinematography is top-notch.

Robert Mueller makes a crackerjack debut with Shutter, which is currently making the film festival rounds. If it plays near you, add it to your need-to-see list.

Shutter: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.