“The Girl in the Photographs” is one of those movies that has stayed with me since the moment I watched it. I really want to get into the nitty gritty of this film, but first, I want to address the issue that most people know this film for, and that’s Wes Craven’s involvement. “The Girl in the Photographs” was the last film that Wes Craven worked on before passing away from brain cancer. Unsurprisingly, this film has garnered much press due to Wes Craven being a producer, and though the film has traits that are reminiscent of some of Craven’s work, this film is more than the name behind it. The film is truly its own and is one of the best slasher films I have seen in quite some time. As heartbroken and sad as I still am with the passing of one of horror’s greatest icons, Craven has presented us with a new storyteller and a new director in horror, Nick Simon.
“The Girl in the Photographs” has been Simon’s project of love for the past 6 years and with the help of Wes Craven, was able to get it off the ground. I had heard about this film when it was making its way through the film festival circuits and was instantly intrigued. At the time, I had no idea that Wes Craven was attached, but I kept hearing bits and pieces about “The Girl in the Photographs” from different press junkets, and everything I had heard was positive. When Wes Craven passed, Simon’s film was brought straight into the spotlight due to Craven’s affiliation with the film. At this point, I knew I had to see the film and I knew I needed to know more about Nick Simon.
I was able to see a screening of “The Girl in the Photographs” a few months ago and within minutes I knew I was watching something special. We’ve all seen the same horror/slasher movie, with the predictable ending, and the final girl surviving and seeking vengenance and so on and so forth. However, this, this was something different. This didn’t follow all the rules that, ironically, Wes Craven set forth in “Scream”. What Nick Simon did was create a film in which it was completely plausible that what was happening in the film could happen in real life, and honestly, what’s more frightening than that?
“The Girl in the Photograph” is about Colleen (Claudia Lee) who lives in a sleepy town where much doesn’t happen. One day she begins to receive photographs of women who appear to have been brutally murdered. Not knowing if the photos are real or staged, Colleen seeks out the police who offer no help. As the photographs continue at a more frequent pace, she realizes that she is either being tormented by a sick individual or having a cruel joke played on her. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m doing my best to keep my mouth shut, but as with all good movies, one of the things that makes this film work is the actors that were picked. I have a tendency to fall in pretend love with actors that look like serial killers (ex. Cillian Murphy), I don’t know why, maybe because they are complex characters and I like complexities but let me tell you, Luke Baines, who plays Tom, is genius. He’s calculating yet friendly. He’s creepy yet comforting. He’s attractive but in a “there’s something not quite right with him” kind of way. He was brilliant in this film and absolutely captivating. When I found out that Kal Penn was involved in the movie, I figured he would be playing the same type of character he usually does (White Castle anyone?) but I couldn’t be more wrong. Penn plays a sleazy photographer (very reminiscent of Terry Richardson) that I think has reached an artist block, and decides to use these photographs of brutally killed women as inspiration. His plan? To do a series around models that look dead. I have never seen Kal Penn play a role like this and he absolutely nailed it. You really disliked him the majority of the time he’s on film but he had a bit of charm so that you couldn’t 100% hate him. He was absolutely my favorite character in the film, followed by Luke Baines’ character.
As much as we love horror movies, and I’m assuming most of you do if you are reading this, you have to admit that what makes it easy to sleep at night is knowing that those monsters and creatures are only on our TV screens. When a director makes a movie that seems so real and so believable, those are the ones that should be keeping us up at night. I commend Nick Simon for doing such a great job on this film because it brings up the question of who can you trust? It’s scary to think that a person you may talk to once a week could be more than who they appear to be. Can you ever really know or trust someone? I don’t think it’s possible, and Nick Simon doesn’t do anything to counteract that.
“The Girl in the Photographs” doesn’t have a confirmed release date yet, but rumors are swirling that it could be released in April. If you are a fan of slasher movies I highly highly highly suggest seeing “The Girl in the Photographs.” I really loved everything about this film and it was clear that parts of it were an homage to Wes Craven’s work. I look forward to the release of the film and I hope all of you get the chance to see this movie whether it be at the theater or on DVD. And of course, I can’t wait to see what Nick Simon has up his sleeve for the next film.
The Girl in the Photograph was Directed by Nick Simon and written by Nick Simon, Oz Perkins, and Robert Morast
The Girl in the Photographs Review
by Shannon McGrew