June 5, 2017 Camera Obscura (Movie Review)
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if those words whisper of eternal demise? In the new Horror release, Camera Obscura, from Chiller Films, a simple photograph can predict your death! Coming to select theatres first on Friday, June 9, 2017, Camera Obscura will then become available on VOD and Digital HD four days later, on June 13th.
By all accounts, Jack and his fiancé Claire are a perfectly normal, early thirty-something couple, though once you scratch the surface the truth begins to emerge: Jack (Christopher Denham: Shutter Island 2010, Argo 2012) is a former Marine Corps photographer suffering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Buoyed by Jack’s progress in counseling, artist turned real estate agent Claire (Nadja Bobyleva: Bridge of Spies 2015, Tatort TV series) purchases him an early anniversary gift, a Kine Exakta camera from the early 1940s. What we will eventually learn is that this camera comes from the collection of one Noah Straum, who favored memorabilia from the private collections of serial killers. Of course!
Though he has promised to never touch another camera, Jack hesitantly embraces the Exakta and begins shooting real estate images for his fiance. However, once these photographs are developed, he quickly learns that something mysteriously macabre is happening here: each roll of films depicts a tragic death – from a little boy drowned beside the community swimming pool to a young girl fallen from the swing-set. Those visuals were not present when the photographs were taken, so why are they present now? As Jack struggles to discover the truth behind the doom and gloom, his already fragile psyche begins to unravel quickly. When someone he loves turns up in a gruesome image, to what lengths will Jack sink to make sure the prophecy never becomes a reality?
Clocking in at roughly 95 minutes, Camera Obscura has shades of Shutter, sure, and sits tentatively upon a somewhat cliché premise for a Horror film. Though it is reminiscent of many others in the genre, Camera Obscura plays out in a format that is watchable, if not earth-shatteringly brilliant. With a jump-scare and quite the collection of corn syrup, this film should be viewed as Rated-R for violence, gore, and one blood-soaked sex scene. In addition, the soundtrack composed by Steve Moore of Zombi fame is just the right fit, helping solidify the atmosphere.
Directed by Aaron B. Koontz (The El Chupacabra 2013, Aperture 2015) and written by Koontz and Cameron Burns (The El Chupugcabra 2013, Aperture 2015), the film is a cyclic tale that starts at the end and then cycles back to explain how we got to tragic end. Thankfully, Denham’s acting is stellar, propelling the entire film forward on the weight of his character alone. Meanwhile, the creative use of some visual symbology (losing teeth, millipedes, broken fingernails) to aid in establishing Jack’s psychological unraveling adds a certain artistic, thoughtful element to a somewhat banal effort.
Ultimately, Camera Obscura asks viewers to decide: is this a demonic camera or is Jack simply suffering a psychotic break? The tale is entertaining enough for a Saturday night on the sofa, though don’t expect this to become a Horror classic. It is solid, intriguing, and full of gore, so break out that greasy popcorn! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Camera Obscura 3 of 5 stars.