Hypothetical Netflix Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I can talk at great length about why I love the horror genre. The beautiful symmetry of the three ACT structure. The formation and destruction of tropes breaking like waves against jagged rocks, rocks that surely someone had fallen to their deaths upon. That fleeting sense that all is, and will be, right with the world. Poetry. Such is The Girl in the Photographs.
What on the surface plays as a standard slasher flick, has much more at work. The set up is simple: a girl in a small town is left a series of photographs of dead girls, cops think they’re fake, the killer continues to stalk her, blah, blah, blah. Right? Naw. Kal Penn shows up as a bespectacled photographer would happens to be from the same small town where these photographs are being found. He acts as the audience in a way, poking fun of the procedures of the horror genre all the while trying to foil the killers plan. Oh. The movie also tips its hand pretty quickly as to who the killer is so you get to see these three story lines play off differently then they would normally in a horror movie.
For example, instead of the bulk of the tension coming from the mystery of who the killer is in the second ACT, the tension instead comes from the interactions of the revealed character with the rest of the cast. Basically, it’s the same old story tilted on its head in a way that plays as multi-layered. I really want to talk about the ending now, so if you plan on watching this, stop reading now, lest it be spoiled.
Fair warning was given. Now, the end totally plays as your run of the mill slasher third ACT. You have your cast together, party setting, sex, drugs, rock n roll. You have your survivor girl and her hero boy. You have your killers. Yeah, I said killers. Spoilers mother fucker, who’d you think was holding the camera? Also, you find that out in the first five minutes. Way off track. The killers come in, start offing the fornicators one by one till it’s just survivor girl and hero boy. Hero boy buys it. And survivor girl? Oh, the killers take her. They keep her alive, photographing her with all the dead bodies from massacre. There’s no fight. No chase. She’s just taken. This is a much more disturbing ending than your standard fare. This is what elevates this movie to nigh film status.