Rachael Taylor for “Shutter”

Aussie actress Rachael Taylor loves a good scare, so was than excited about playing the lead in the Japan-set thriller, Shutter. Here Taylor and Joshua Jackson star as a newly married couple that discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.

“I am a fan of horror as a general rule of thumb for some silly reason,” the pretty blonde actress explains from a Hollywood movie theatre that was host to the press junket for this spooky new thriller. “It’s considered passé to be a fan of the genre, I think, when you’re a young actor, but I am. I just saw the film The Orphanage, which I certainly encourage you to go and see, because it’s fantastic and phenomenal and I love old horror movies as well. So I’m a big fan of the genre, because I think it’s essentially always about the human experience and it’s just pushing that to the limit.”

Taylor was particularly enthused about embarking on her own horror journey with Shutter, itself a remake of a 2004 Thai thriller. “I just think the bones of the story are really good, because it’s not just an overt horror film, but a genre film that has a very, very cerebral aspect to it,” Taylor explains. “It’s about someone who really has to basically un-pick a mystery and it just happens to occur that there’s a very spooky phenomenon, spirit photography, which is just basically supernatural images that occur on film. So it’s just odd and it’s a very good female story.” Taylor says she is gratified that “I’m not, like, the helpless blonde female being hacked up and having horrendous things happen to her, because it’s my character’s job to figure out this very, very distressing mystery. So it’s a pro-active story, it’s creepy, yet not disgusting and not overt in its goriness. It’s just a smart film, like a younger version of What Lies Beneath.”

Taylor shot the film on location in Japan with a Japanese director who worked through an interpreter. Asked how the cultural differences were either for or against her, Taylor says, “They were the same experiences as that of the character. I feel that obviously the role was very much out of her element, very, very isolated, and having to unpick this kind of distressing drama that was going on in her life. And here I was, a non-Japanese-speaking Western girl, who was in the middle of shooting her first lead role in a movie and I didn’t speak the same language as anyone. So obviously there are certain challenges inherent, but in the end, it was my job to kind of use those challenges to my advantage.”

The actress adds that this director “just understands building a creepy world so well and it’s what he does best. He’s made a number of successful Japanese horror films that are about building tension, and about building creepiness over a sustained period of time, rather than just going for the cheap, quick pay-off scare, so he was the perfect choice for this, and I think he really saw it for what it was, as well, which is not just a horror movie, but a relationship genre that is encumbered by a secret that’s at the core of it.”

Taylor has started to secure success in Hollywood since moving here from her native Australia, beginning with last year’s blockbuster, Transformers. She says she has been “very, very lucky” in meeting the challenges as an Aussie actress trying to make her way in this competitive of industries. “I don’t think the challenges as an Australian actress are different than the challenges of any actress, but course, there’s the right project in front of you, and sometimes there’s not. But it’s about really knowing what you want, and being very clear about that and then just doing it. I also think when you are clear about what you want in this industry then it’s easy to go after it.”

Though Taylor spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, she doesn’t define the city as being home. “It seems like I’m home wherever my suitcase is at the time right now. Look, I’m Australian, and that’s not going to change any time soon, but I have been extremely lucky in LA. I wouldn’t say that I’m singularly focused on work and there are lots of things in my life that are important to me, like my friends and my family back in Australia, but my work is important to me and LA seems like the best place for employment.” And the actress says she is not too much entrenched in Los Angeles’ so-called Aussie Hollywood mafia. “I try to avoid them, because they’re a robust bunch. I don’t know if my friends are part of the Hollywood Australian mafia, but a bunch of my serious girlfriends and guy friends are Australian.”

Taylor was recently in Sundance for the premiere of the Indie film Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, but at present is “just reading madly after the writer’s strike. To be quite honest, I haven’t read anything of late that has really felt like the next right pick. I think for the next step, I could either go and blow it on a stupid comedy, a less smart genre horror movie, or I could hang out and actually wait for the next piece that really speaks to me, really makes sense, and gives me that next leg up into the class of actor that I really respect, and that I really want to be.”