Girl in the Photographs, The (2015)


girl in the photographs posterStarring Claudia Lee, Kal Penn, Katharine Isabelle, Christy Carlson Romano

Directed by Nick Simon

The girl in the photographs is a murder victim – and her gruesome image is, for reasons at first unknown, shown only to a small town grocery store clerk named Colleen (Claudia Lee). The ghastly pictures are pasted on the wall at her work, held fast under the windshield wipers of her car, and left in other strategic areas. Of course, she takes the 8 x 10 glossies to the local police, but they dismiss the pics as fakes and send Colleen on her way.

In short order, the photos go viral on the internet and immediately catch the attention of famed fashion photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn). Hemmings recognizes the poses because they are repulsive replicas of his most famous trademark catalogue and billboard campaigns. Intrigued to find this obvious fan of his work, he gathers up his girlfriend, a couple of models, and his personal assistant for the first flight out of L.A. Once in the dinky South Dakota town where the photos were first found, Hemmings rents the biggest mansion he can find, and before long trouble finds him.

The characters are cardboard cut-outs. Douchebag hipster L.A. artiste: check. Long-suffering lackey: check. Matching airhead male and females models: check. Bitchy girlfriend: check. Sweet small-town girl: check. Jerky jock boyfriend: check. And, a pair of creepy, mask-wearing psychotic killers: check. Fortunately, the actors each bring something interesting and even at times likable to all these folks. Katharine Isabelle has a very small role, but even she manages to make a lasting impression. No doubt, that’s thanks to the team behind The Girl in the Photographs, who previously brought us a witty thriller called Removal. Also, Wes Craven executive produced the movie, and Dean Cundy shot it. All those elements help elevate the clichés into something else altogether.

The Girl in the Photographs is definitely a horror movie – and a body-count slasher, at that – but there are traces of comedy laced throughout. Only traces though, which I think takes away from the horror. I would rather have seen the story played straight; perhaps another actor in the Hemmings role would have made the suspense altogether gripping. It could have been more De Palma and less Dante, but as it turns out the levity lessens the impact.

While the movie does not reference other horror movies – as so many slashers do these days – it’s very much in the zeitgeist of the internet age, and the writers and director ably incorporate texting and social media into the mix, not to mention biting commentary on the emphasis placed on façade and the desire to catch everything on camera in order to be famous. Also, apparently Simon and co. hate AT&T and Dell Computers.

The tension is built slowly and effectively, with only squirts of gore strategically placed throughout… but the payoff bloodbath at the end makes the wait worthwhile.

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The Girl in the Photographs screened at Screamfest L.A. on Monday, October 19, 2015.

  • Film
User Rating 4.14 (7 votes)


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