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POLAROID (2017)

Polaroid, the film about the cursed camera, seems to be suffering from a curse of its own. Filmed in 2016 for a 2017 release for Dimension Pictures, it was caught up in the constant rescheduling they were infamous for. Then, in the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein’s scandals, even though he personally wasn’t involved in its filming, it was shelved entirely. Since then, it’s been largely unseen and ha several distribution deals fall through. However, it must have something going for it, as director Lars Klevberg went from it to the Child’s Play reboot.

Bird Fitcher (Kathryn Prescott, The Hive) is given a Polaroid SX-70 by a co-worker. However, it carries a curse that brings violent death to anyone whose picture it takes. After taking l pictures of her friends Mina (Priscilla Quintana, Good Trouble, Traffik), Devin (Keenan Tracey, Engaged to be Murdered, Bates Motel), Kasey (Samantha Logan, The Empty Man, All American), and Connor (Tyler Young, Licorice Pizza, The Avatars) at a costume party. Another of the group, Avery (Katie Stevens, Haunt, The Bold Type) uses it to take a selfie.

When they begin dying, Bird and her friends, must try to unravel the secret behind the camera’s previous owner and the demonic entity attached to it before they all end up dead.

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We’ve seen cursed cameras before of course, in Shutter, Time Lapse and more than a few anthologies. There’s even an R.L. Stine Goosebumps book Say Cheese And Die which was adapted for the TV show. So this isn’t anything groundbreaking, Polaroid is based on a short Klevberg wrote himself. However, the feature version was written by Blair Butler (Hell Fest, Attack Of The Show!). It’s a PG-13 teen jump scare film, and for what it is it’s not bad.

We get the usual creeping around dark places, narrow escapes. Shocking revelations and nasty secrets. All leading to a frantic, fast-paced final showdown in, where else, the empty High School. The backstory is actually fairly inventive, even if it has some serious holes in it. One twist is that we get two versions of it. Versions that, keep the basic facts the same but recast the players in very different lights. You’re left to decide which version to believe.

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Polaroid gives us a chance to see Mitch Pileggi (Shocker, X Files) go up against a demon. But sadly the film is bloodless, even somebody getting ripped in half is a dry kill. The demon itself is a fairly effective CGI creation that looks like it came from a J Horror film. Not surprising, as the producers of the American versions of The Ring and The Grudge were involved with the film.

While it’s hardly a lost treasure, Polaroid is a certainly worth a look. It’s on a level with the films Blumhouse has been putting out. It’s been released in Germany and a couple of other countries, but in most places, it remains unreleased. Perhaps because the camera’s backstory involves sexual exploitation. And that combined with who owned the company that made it is seen as too scandalous? Or maybe it’s just some boring matters of money and rights. Either way, the film deserves a proper release.

YouTube video

And as an added bonus, here’s the original short. It’s in Norwegian with subtitles.

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