2019-09-27 09:05
Kathryn Prescott in 'Polaroid.'


A high school loner, Bird Fitcher, stumbles upon a vintage Polaroid camera. Bird soon learns that the camera houses a terrible secret—whoever has their picture taken by it meets a tragic and violent end. The girl and her friends must survive one more night as they race to solve the mystery of the haunted Polaroid before it kills them all.


Haunted cameras isn’t a new concept in the horror genre - I think the first time I saw one was in the RL Stine TV series - but it’s one that hasn’t been overused yet. Polaroid is the expansion of an acclaimed short film by Norwegian director Lars Klevberg, and in the feature-length version, it has enough legs to scare the audience with a story that continuously… develops with twists and turns. While it wasn’t awful, it’s not exactly anything highly exciting either and is just one of those horrors that would be fun at high school sleepovers but won’t become a cult classic.

A shy teenager with a propensity for photography receives an old Polaroid camera as a present and is convinced to attend a party where she takes photos of some friends. One by one, they start dying horrible deaths, and she realises that a malicious spirit possesses the camera.

The biggest flaw of the film is its villain - an out-of-focus menace that lurks in the shadows but for the most part won’t even scare a pre-teen. You take away the anxiety-inducing music and jump scares, and you’re left with a pretty average ghost that can’t stand the light.

The mechanics of the villain, however, was well-thought-out in terms of how it relates to a camera, and the eventual story behind his haunting of the teenagers in the photos is quite compelling. Unfortunately, it has placed itself in the horror genre where your villain is the most important part of the film, and when it can’t even say boo to a mouse, then you have a problem.

What works in Polaroid is its story - the premise is about how we place blame on ourselves and others and how guilt can shape our lives. With the main character Bird, played by Skins regular Kathryn Prescott, all the way through to how the spirit attached itself to the camera, the common thread is how we take responsibility for our actions. And many times, the blame is misplaced.

Polaroid is a good horror for people who don’t like horrors that much, making it a great date or friend-group movie, but hardcore horror fans won’t be thrilled by the villain. If you’re wondering about the what the short film was like, the intro pays homage to what came before and probably the scariest part of the whole movie. It will, however, make you rethink the next time you bring anything home from the flea market.

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