Imagine you are working the night shift all by yourself. The only audible sound is the ticking of the clock as you count down the minutes until you can finally go home. The night drags on but eventually reaches its close. As you are leaving, you notice something strange on the employee bulletin board. Upon closer observation, you find that it is a photograph of a girl who has been brutally murdered. The first thought to pop into your mind is that this is a cruel prank. According to director Nick Simon’s 2015 film The Girl In The Photographs, this scenario is most certainly not a joke. A picture is worth a thousand screams.
Spearfish is a minuscule town in South Dakota where Colleen (Claudia Lee) lives among the other ten thousand residents. Her life is pretty mundane until her world gets turned upside down. She begins to find disturbing photos of murdered women in random places, each one more gruesome than the next. She immediately goes to the police with the photos. However, they refuse to help because they don’t think the photos are legitimate. Is someone just toying with Colleen or is there something more sinister in store for her?
I was surprised to find out that The Girl In The Photographs was the last film that Wes Craven had involvement with. He is the mastermind behind several movies including A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House On The Left. Sadly, Craven died shortly before the film’s resolution. Looking back, however, I can definitely see his touch in certain areas. The opening scene reminded me much of the opening scene from Scream. After that, the movie loses its momentum. It lacks suspense, has a lot of unnecessary scenes, and the story just does not flow. For example, the main character Colleen doesn’t seem to be very paranoid considering she keeps receiving graphic photos of death. Primarily, I felt this was due to a lack of direction. It seems as though the film just goes through the motions instead of going that extra mile for the “WOW” factor.
Despite the lack of direction, some of the actors were pretty good. The two masked killers Tom and Gerry (Luke Baines and Corey Schmitt) are as creepy as they come. Their scenes are the best ones. Gerry, in particular, will be sure to make you cringe. Also, Kal Penn plays the role of the condescending photographer, Peter Hemmings, proving to us that he is capable of doing more than being funny. His humor does shine through here and there, but ultimately we are left to dislike him just as we would any other pretentious person. I must admit despite this film’s scenario, I kept having flashbacks of the 2004 movie Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle because of him. Other than that, I took Penn seriously as an actor.
Overall, The Girl In The Photographs is a creepy but flat ride. No rollercoasters here. The beginning builds up the tension only to break into a thousand pieces of an emotionless story. The ending left me confused as I wondered what the relevance was. I do think that if Craven had been with us a little longer The Girl In The Photographs may have turned out better. I did spot his insight throughout the film so it wasn’t a complete flop. Regardless, we still have his long list of horror creations to enjoy for years to come. Wes Craven, you are a true horror icon. Rest in peace.