Polaroid (2019) is currently available on Netflix and an absolute must watch. I watched it when it first came out, then again today and enjoyed it every bit as much the second time around. It’s a superb horror film that could be the twisted love child of Shutter and Final Destination.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing terribly original about Polaroid. It uses age-old tropes, tricks and tools of the trade that any horror fan will find instantly recognisable. (For instance, there’s a bouncing ball less than seven minutes in that of course bounces back into view, seemingly on its own--because every ghost story has one.) The thing that makes Polaroid work so well is the way it plays on expectations, subverting them only after leading you in the wrong direction. There are even some great double bluffs, which keeps you engaged right to the end.
Polaroids had already fallen out of favour by the time I was a teenager. I had one, naturally, photography freak that I was, but they were a novelty. One reason for this is that the film was hard to find and freaking expensive. Plus, the quality of point-and-shoots had gone up and up and, honestly, Polaroid shots were crappy in comparison. You know they were on the decline because just one year after my high school graduation, the company filed for bankruptcy the first time.
Since Polaroid all but disappeared in the 2000s (although its legacy continued--just look at the early logo for Instagram,) there's a whole generation of people who are clueless about what they are and how they work. The movie plays on this fact, to sometimes humorous effect. I had to giggle as one girl complained that the photo was blank.
Kids these days, right? ;)
I can't tell you how much I love the hum of a Polaroid's flash warming up. It creates such an awesome air of expectation. The movie uses the hum well to that effect, edging up tension with each protracted hum. It also utilizes a filter that gives everything a gloomy, grey feel that sets the tone well and uses unusual camera angles to make viewers feel off-kilter. Add atmospheric music and brilliant use of shadows and you've got yourself one edgy horror movie.
There were plenty of things that appealed to me with Polaroid--things like subtle shadows, creaking floorboards, lights going out, and use of background space--but one of my favourite parts of the movie was the switch from the teaser to the main story. The transition from old Polaroid photo to modern yearbook photo was clever and well done. The framing is just a small touch, but one that caught my attention.
Actually, there are a lot of little things about Polaroid that I just freaking loved. I could probably talk about it for as long as it would take you to watch it so... maybe go do that. Fall's on the way and there's no better time for a horror movie, especially one that's so nostalgic and clever. Give me a shout when you're done and let me know what you think.