The Girl in the Photographs is the last film produced by horror master Wes Craven. I’m sure it’s not the worst thing on his resume, but I really wish it could have been a more worthy film.
The plot is simple: an attractive girl (Claudia Lee) stuck working as a supermarket cashier in a sleepy town called Spearfish starts receiving photos of brutally murdered women. A douchebag artistic photographer (Kal Penn) from Spearfish catches wind of the photos and decides to return to his hometown for some stupid reason, taking along with him a bunch of attractive models and assistants (including Kenny Wormald, the guy who starred in the Footloose remake).
The interesting thing about The Girl in the Photographs — and/or the boring thing — is that there’s no real mystery as to who the killer is. Accordingly, it just becomes a formulaic slasher thriller where obnoxious characters get picked off one by one — and not in very creative or frightening ways either.
It’s a shame, because the film actually starts off really well thanks to an extended cameo from scream queen Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) that was both tense and unnerving. It’s also great watching Kal Penn being a complete dick — albeit a different kind of dick to Kumar — because you know he can do it so well. Kenny Wormald has some talent as does Claudia Lee, who establishes herself as a starlet to look out for in the future. Oh, and it also stars Mitch Pileggi! Yes, Skinner from The X-Files!
Unfortunately, despite the promising start, a solid cast and what could have been a fascinating premise had they just bothered to explore it, The Girl in the Photographs quickly reverts to fairly standard, straight-to-DVD-level scares and tactics. Director and co-writer Nick Simon does a decent job in creating a brutal and sadistic vibe and embraces the campy atmosphere rather than shy away from it. This makes the movie better than it should have been, though that still doesn’t make it a good movie.
Truth is, we’ve seen this type of thing countless times before, and The Girl in the Photographs fails to stand out. It may not be horrible, but neither is it particularly intelligent, funny or scary. The film may have been able to redeem itself with a great finish or shocking twist, but as it turned out, all we got was an anti-climatic climax and shitty, cookie-cutter ending. Oh well.
2 stars out of 5