The Girl in the Photographs: So Gory, Not So Much Story
Despite its seemingly aggressive and gory premise, Nick Simon’s The Girl in the Photographs is one of the most uninspiring slasher movies you will have the misfortune of seeing. Attempting to cultivate a sense of paranoia and dread, the film is completely devoid of suspense, despite the late, great Wes Craven being attached as executive producer.
The story begins with college student, Janet (Isabelle), who, after returning home late one night from watching a bad movie at the cinema, is brutally attacked and killed in her home mask-wearing madmen, Tom (Baines) and Gerry (Schmitt) who, before disposing of her body, photograph their and put her pictures up around the sleepy town of Spearfish, South Dakota.
Connecting the discovery to some kind of roguish art, the police is totally unmoved by the evidence; however, local grocery store clerk, Colleen (Lee), seems to think that there is something more malicious at play. The murder soon attracts the attention of a predatory photographer, Peter Hemmings (Penn), who decides to travel from L.A to Spearfish along with his assistant Chris (Wormald) and a group of models in order to seek inspiration and create his own art. Finding Colleen, Peter soon becomes obsessed in re-creating the sadistic photo and event, but as more people go missing and the photo count increases, chaos and paranoia takes over the town.
The Girl in the Photographs is one violent and gruesome picture which doesn’t sugar coat its sadism and depictions torture. However, while the grisliness of it all seems perfectly suited to its Slasher-movie premise, the execution comes across as a little dull with the story investing very little time or interest in building any sort of mystery or suspense. The snail-like pacing is another damaging factor with director Nick Simon – working a the script written by a group of largely inexperienced screenwriters – wasting too much time allowing for a scene to unfold, igniting boredom rather than tension, while the performances fail to rise above the tedious script.
On the visual front, the film is slightly more effective thanks to the contributions of legendary cinematographer, Dean Cundey – see Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Back to the Future. Gory, violent and exceptionally inane, The Girl in the Photographs is not completely without its terror-inducing moments, but there isn’t enough of its redeeming features to sustain it.