Plot: Jack (Christopher Denham) has an intense passion for photography, but a tour of Afghanistan as a press photographer has taken an immense toll on him. His experiences there have changed him, leading to therapy, medication, and a refusal to pick up a camera, regardless of his passion. Once some time has passed, his girlfriend Claire (Nadja Bobyleva) purchases a vintage camera and offers it to Jack as a gift, which he is hesitant to accept, but does. The unusual camera rekindles his passion and he accepts an assignment taking some real estate photos, which seems like a mundane task, but at least he is behind a camera again. But when the photos are developed, Jack discovers some horrific visuals, as dead bodies are visible and one of them, a young boy, died not long after he was at the site. When Claire is seen dead in one of the photos, Jack realizes he must do something to protect his love.
Entertainment Value: This movie has a slow start, but picks up steam and shows some real potential toward the finale. The movie stumbles out of the gate thanks to the odd casting choice of Christopher Denham, who is a capable performer, but seems out of place in this role. He just doesn’t capture the slow descent into madness, coming off in a rather comedic way instead. I mean, it is humorous, just for the wrong reasons, so perhaps someone more suited to the craziness required would have been a better fit for the role. Nadja Bobyleva is capable as the love interest, but there isn’t much chemistry between the leads. Once the camera’s secrets are revealed, the movie picks up a lot and gains some fun horror elements, but the movie never feels scary or overly tense, just violent. Although this is a case where Denham’s out of place presence makes sense, as he is so awkward in the violent sequences. I did appreciate the offbeat nature of the finale run, as Jack throws caution to the wind and openly stalks his victims, the highlight of which is an encounter with a creepy hardware store owner. The finale aside, Camera Obscura is a rather dull affair, but to me, the final act is so weird, it warrants a recommendation.
One topless scene, but it is a generous one, so there’s that. The blood takes a while to show up, but the final act provides some fun, creative bloodshed. I loved the entire sequence between Jack and hardware store owner Tad, as it was so creepy and off the wall. If the entire movie could have captured that kind of energy, this would have been an awesome picture. Their bizarre store interaction and subsequent brawl is reason enough to give Camera Obscura a chance. A lot of the violence happens off screen, but we do get stabbings, head bashing, gun shots, and all of these produce a fair amount of the red stuff. The awkward nature of Jack’s killing methods just makes them seem quite ridiculous, as he clearly doesn’t want to do it, but is compelled and so his reluctant murder approach is hilarious. The dialogue is mostly forgettable, but Denham’s awkward performance adds some fun moments, as well as the interactions between Jack and Tad. On the craziness side, I’m scoring a point for the Tad/Jack sequences, as well as another for the awkwardness of Denham.
Overall Insanity: 2/10