Welcome to World Photography Day where every August 19th us camera-loving types share our love for all things cameras, our favourite photos, or in this case I’m going to share some camera-related movies. There are only two things I love in the world: horror movies and photography, so it fills me with immense joy whenever a horror movie comes along about a photographer or a haunted camera, that is until they fail at the technical aspect and I become that person everybody hates that starts yelling “that’s not how it works!” I’ve included one such film in this list because even though it pissed me off more than you can know, I worked in a camera store so I know there are people out there who will think it all plausible, so therefore you might enjoy it and who am I to deprive you?
10. Camera Obscura 
Some guy who has just come back from being a war photographer, refuses to pick up his camera again and rightly so, who wouldn’t be traumatised after that? But apparently he doesn’t want to get a job either so his girlfriend buys him a vintage camera hoping to spark his interest in photography again. This is where the entire movie falls apart. After shooting a ridiculous amount of film which no photographer would do because you should probably make sure it works first, he puts them in to be developed where a fire breaks out and has miraculously turned his colour negatives into black and white, and all the photos are depicting dead people who haven’t died yet. Cool? You’d think so but all the photos are time stamped. His vintage camera was made about 30 years before that kind of technology came along. Like come on guys, you had one job and you fucked it up.
9. Final Destination 3 
When you say the words ‘Final Destination’, middle-aged folk trauma bond over their mutual fear of logging trucks, but with Final Destination 3 I was already terrified of rollercoasters thanks to a Point Horror novel I read when I was 13, so this one just got to be a lot of fun to watch rather than nightmare fuel. In FD3, Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) not only has a premonition that the rollercoaster is going to be the ride from hell, she’s also got a collection of photos she took on the night that offer clues on how everyone will die. Death doesn’t make designs anymore, he creates picture puzzles.
8. Selfie From Hell 
This short was actually made into a full-length film and I’m just going to be straight with you: It sucked. It was so bad I’ve blocked it from my memory in some kind of trauma response. Some movies just don’t need to be longer than 1 minute and 41 seconds.
7. Polaroid 
A haunted polaroid camera that kills anyone it takes a photo of….it’s going to be a bad day for hipsters! Awkward teen Bird is gifted a vintage polaroid camera and with every photo she snaps, a strange shadow passes onto each new photo until that person dies and the shadow passes back to the photo before it. Apparently there’s no escaping this malevolent spirit! While people start dying, it’s up to Bird to find out the camera’s history and if there’s a way to break the curse. This is kind of your standard teen horror but it gets points for including a cool darkroom scene at the end.
6. Peeping Tom 
It could be argued if this is the first slasher movie or not, but being made in 1960 you’re obviously not going to be sitting down to watch some knife-wielding madman running havoc like we did by the end of the 1970’s. Instead we have introverted photographer and aspiring film director Mark Lewis who murders women in a mission to document pure fear. We don’t see it in action but he seems to have found a good use for his tripod.
5. The Midnight Meat Train 
Based on a Clive Barker novel of the same name, The Midnight Meat Train stars Bradley Cooper as Leon, a struggling street photographer trying to break into the world of fine art galleries. After finally getting a meeting with a prestigious gallery owner, she tells him his work is empty and offers him some advice: The next time you find yourself at the heart of the city, stay put, be brave, keep shooting. Advice he takes on board the next time he goes out with his camera which ends with him going down a rabbit hole which could cost him his life.
If you can get past the CGI, the kills are pretty savage as Vinnie Jones smashes his way through train passengers with a big-ass meat tenderizer with effects that leave you thinking you should be wearing 3D glasses.
4. The Voyeurs 
Pippa and Thomas have just moved into a new apartment that is apparently so swanky you aren’t allowed curtains. Privacy is for povvos. So on the first night in their new home they get to see the guy in the opposite building having sex and like all good neighbours, they buy themselves some binoculars for a better view because this is obviously better than Netflix. It’s definitely money well spent because this guy has quite the libido as he tried to bed every model that steps in front of his camera. Pippa’s voyeuristic tendencies increase though as they gate-crash the photographer’s costume party and becomes friends with his wife with disastrous results that blew my mind!
3. Get Out 
Imagine you’re an entitled old white fart who thinks they can win themselves a new human body by playing Bingo, because that’s exactly what happens in Get Out. Jordan Peele’s debut horror flick introduces us to Chris, a talented street photographer who has incredibly bad taste in women as he goes on a weekend trip with his girlfriend to meet her family, a white family who like to use their daughter to lure talented and attractive black people so the local white folk can have a second chance of living their best life. I’m not sure what’s creepier really: the fact they think they can get away with doing this to so many black folk, or the fact they’re ok with their daughter luring all these people with sex. Seriously think about it, she’s fucked her grandparents. Nasty.
2. Shutter 
This movie is special to me because it’s not just about a photographer or spooky photos, it’s about a photographer with chronic neck pain and I feel that on a very personal level. My neck pain is so severe that I haven’t shot a concert since Covid hit.
Ben (Joshua Jackson) and Jane (Rachael Taylor) just got married and during a late night drive, Jane hits a woman standing in the middle of the road. When weird light streaks start appearing in all of their photos, which she later hears is Spirit Photography, Jane thinks the woman’s spirit is haunting her but the ghost is trying to give Jane a message.
There are two versions of this movie. There’s the original Thai film or the American remake that came out four years later. This is probably the one remake the US did right, where it stayed fairly faithful to the original. The main difference would be between Ben and Tun when it comes to their backstories. Whereas Tun knows what happened is awful and he feels remorse, Ben’s character was much more involved in what went down and prefers to keep reminding us “she was crazy” as some kind of justification for what happened. If you hate reading subtitles then I recommend the US version but if you prefer to experience all the jump scares and creepy ghost action then pick the Thai version.
1. The Girl In The Photographs 
In the small town of Spearfish, someone is leaving photos of dead girls in public places for Colleen to find as some sort of twisted love letter and the local police couldn’t give a shit. Meanwhile, fashion photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn) has read about this on the internet and his ego is so huge he honestly believes this is a homage to him, Spearfish’s most famous citizen, and heads back to his hometown totally inspired to photograph a couple of models as dead people. What could possibly go wrong?
When it comes to photography I can go from thinking I’m mediocre to having a God complex in the blink of an eye, which is why I love this film so much. Peter Hemmings is my spirit animal and Kal Penn perfectly delivers the deadpan commentary on how everyone thinks they’re a photographer to his attitude during a mediocre photo shoot – I’ve definitely had that inner monologue before. The Girl In The Photographs is proof that sometimes you should give the indie films a chance because they can be a whole lot more fun than some big budget remake.
Written by Kim Anderson