traditional cultures believe photography steals the soul. “O” in Beckett’s Film feared the camera’s eye precisely
because it objectified him. Colleen is not too thrilled to have her picture
taken either. That is because every photographer she knows is either a hipster
jerkheel or a masked serial killer. The camera becomes an instrument of terror
in Nick Simon’s The Girl in the Photographs
opens this Friday in New York.
South Dakota is a small, sleepy little town with an extraordinarily lazy sheriff’s
department. For weeks, some perv has been leaving photos of what look like
brutally murder women (which indeed they are) for Colleen to find. Since
Sheriff Porter cannot verify they are indeed homicide victims, he treats it
like an elaborate prank. Dude, seriously show a little initiative here.
fashion photographer Peter Hemmings (spelled just like David Hemmings, star of
Antonioni’s Blowup) happens to be
from Spearfish—far from it. However, he keeps up with the town news to make
himself feel smugly superior. When he reads about the nasty photos, he believes
a “fan” has been appropriating his lifeless looking aesthetic. Rather
precipitously, he resolves to return to Spearfish to appropriate it right back
with an uber-meta shoot, perhaps even featuring some locals. Colleen will be
the obvious choice.
Hemmings blows into town, thanks to the scrambling logistics of his long
suffering assistant Chris, much hedonism ensues. Hemmings quickly develops an
exploitative obsession with Colleen, while Chris’s romantic interest is much
healthier. Frankly, she might as well leave with them for Los Angeles, since
she just dumped her white trash boyfriend and her BFF has been violently
murdered by her stalkers. Of course, you know those things that are guaranteed
to get you killed in a horror movie? Hemmings and his models do a whole heck of
a lot of them.
Photographs is billed as the
final screen credit of the late, great Wes Craven, who served as co-executive
producer. There are obvious echoes of the Scream
franchise, obviously starting with the creepy masks donned by the two
psycho-stalkers. However, the film drips with a caustically sarcastic attitude
that really make the first two acts quite distinctive. Unfortunately, the
balance of the film is pretty standard stalk-and-kill stuff, but that is often
the case, even with the most ambitious genre outings.
Penn is an acerbic stitch as the debauched prima donna Hemmings. Listening to his
natural conviction riffing on drugs and exotic sex acts also probably gives us
some insight into the Obama Administration. The world is much better off having
him in films like Photographs. The
way he masticates the scenery is a pleasure to behold. Unfortunately, only
Miranda Raye Mayo really hangs with Penn as Hemmings’ contemptuous yet also
jealous model-lover, Rose. She can deliver an acid-laced line with the best of
there is something rather appealing about the chemistry Claudia Lee and Kenny
Wormald develop as Colleen and Chris, even though we know from the start it
will end in bloody tears. Even more frustratingly, Mitch Pileggi is almost totally
wasted as Sheriff Porter, except to provide an apostolic link to Craven’s Shocker.
Dean Cudney, cinematographer on John Carpenter’s
original Halloween, gives the film
the right look and Simon wisely lets Penn and Mayo set their own pace. When
they are sparking on screen together, it could be the slasher film Howard Hawks
never made, but when the focus shifts to Colleen, the vibe becomes almost
dreary. On balance though, there is plenty here for horror fans to work with.
Recommended for the snarky parts, The
Girl in the Photographs opens this Friday (4/1) in New York, at the Cinema
Labels: Horror Movies, Kal Penn, Wes Craven