Review: THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, Woefully Underdeveloped
In the opening scene of The Girl in the Photographs - an indie slasher that’s notoriously Wes Craven’s very last film credit -, we see two girls walking out of a movie theater after watching a horror movie. One of them hated it while the other seems to be a fan of the genre as she values that, at least, one of the death scenes was really good. This is certainly an indication that these characters have just experienced an average slasher film, in which the kills are probably the only attraction.
The Girl in the Photographs itself tries not to be that plain slasher as it quickly establishes some concepts beyond the violent acts. However, it’s one of those cases with just too many ideas and nowhere near enough ability to stick.
The central plot follows a young woman from the moment in which she finds a photograph of a murdered girl at her workplace. It’s not the first photo of this kind that she has found, though the policemen of her small town are not really paying much attention to the creepy situation as they argue that there’s nothing criminal in these pictures. Aside of the frustration with the police, our protagonist soon realizes - basically out of nowhere -, that one of the dead girls in the photos sort of has the same pose of a model from a magazine cover. This take us to a subplot that kicks off in Los Angeles, where the photogrpher of said magazine cover relates the case of the dead girls photos with his own work, concluding he needs to return to his hometown to counteract this apparent homage with a series of photographs of models pretending they are dead.
It is indeed a messy plot, clumsy at times (i.e. when the main characters of each storyline finally meet), but the real problem is, like I said, how the script doesn’t develop any of the peculiar elements. Is the fact that one of the photos looked similar to the magazine cover relevant for the rest of the story? Not at all, it’s not even mentioned again. We don’t get to see much of the L.A. based photographer’s attempt to create his morbid yet artsy project, not to mention that the killers’ relation to the art of photography ends being simply a stylish detail; their pictures mean that something horrible is about to happen to the person that has seen them and nothing more.
Actually, the film flirts with the idea of becoming self-referential by poking fun at the increasingly arbitrary aspect of the screenplay. The murderers do not really have a profound motive, though that’s exactly what such kin dof convoluted plot made us think at first sight. “You’re simply the chosen one, there’s no need to look for further explanation”, is basically what the funny and cartoonish L.A. artist says to the girl, who doesn’t quite understand why she is the victim.
Yet it’s impossible to say this is fully a parody of the slasher subgenre. The humoristic element is - together with the photography-related commentary and even minor characters like the artist’s assistant who could be the protagonist’s new love interest -, just a brief part of the most basic slasher that barely delivers truly shocking material, and where the killers simply fulfill their “mission” and then embark to meet the new “chosen one.”