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Film / Polaroid

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Polaroid is a horror film based on a short by Lars Klevberg starring Kathryn Prescott, Tyler Young, Samantha Logan, Mitch Pileggi, and Javier Botet. It was supposed to be released on December 1st, 2017, but was delayed due to The Weinstein Company's troubles. It was given a digital release on September 17, 2019, and a limited theatrical release on October 11.

The film centers on high school loner Bird, who stumbles upon a Polaroid vintage camera. She soon discovers that whoever has their picture taken by the camera will meet a tragic end.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Roland was sexually abusive towards his daughter Rebecca. Possibly Lena, too, given that she tries to cover up her husband's actions.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The camera resists attempts to destroy it. Bird throwing it against a wall causes a sort of pulse that knocks her back, but the camera is undamaged.
  • Cursed Item: Photographs from the camera act as talismans that draw a demonic entity to the victims within them.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The entity's attacks always take place in heavy darkness. Even if there are lamps on, they will strangely produce very little light. Later it's revealed that the entity has the power to blackout rooms its victims are in. This is theorized to be because, like a photograph, it can only "develop" in the dark.
  • Dead Star Walking: Madelaine Petsch as the camera's first onscreen victim.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rebecca Sable in the past, because her father sexually assaulted her and abducted and killed her friends when they found out and tried to go to the police.
  • Fingore: Bird attempts to kill Roland by snapping a photo of him and crumpling it up and since two of her fingers are also in the photo, she ends up mangling them along with Roland. When this fails to work, she sets the photo on fire, resulting in said fingers being badly burned as well as broken.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The later deaths use this. Though they aren't shown, what happened is clear.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Polaroid's original owner, Roland Sable, whose spirit is now tied to the camera.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: How Sheriff Pembrooke dies, when Roland's spirit takes the picture of him and tears it (and him) in half.
  • Haunted Technology: The Polaroid camera is possessed by some kind of entity. Namely, the ghost of Roland Sable.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Roland's ghost is ultimately done in by the Polaroid camera, just like its victims.
  • Karma Houdini: Lena Sable, who is never seen getting punishment for what she did and lying to the protagonists.
  • Implacable Man: The entity within the camera. Bullets don't seem to hurt it at all, but heat can repel it for the time being.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Devin angrily blames Bird for the deaths because she took everyone's photo at the party with a camera that she did not, at the time, know was an evil ghost camera.
  • Kill It with Fire: Roland Sable is killed this way.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • The entity is speculated to attack in the dark because it's linked to the camera's photos, and developing photos can be damaged by light and heat. It can inflict Darkness Equals Death at will, but it has no solution to heat and can be repelled by sufficient temperatures.
    • The photographs act as demon magnets, drawing the entity to the victim within them. Sympathetic Magic discourages victims from trying to destroy the photographs. However, this can be weaponized, and both the protagonists and villain do so, eventually leading to the latter's defeat.
  • Magical Camera: The titular Polaroid.
  • Marked to Die: When people have their pictures taken by the Polaroid, they are targeted by Roland's ghost. This is indicated by a shadow that appears over the person in the photo.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sheriff Pembrooke reveals to the teens that he and Roland's victims did not bully Rebecca, but instead tried to save her from her abusive father. Sadly, by the time he tells them, Bird has already taken his picture with the Polaroid, marking him for death.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The first few deaths aren't shown, but they are heard.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Roland's wife convinces Bird that Sheriff Pembrooke was one of four teens who were bullying her daughter and drove her to suicide, resulting in Roland protectively lashing out and being killed by the police. By the time the lie gets put to this, Bird has already snapped Pembrooke's photo thinking that he needs to pay for his "crime" and that if Roland can complete his revenge, the curse threatening her and her friends will end.
  • Resurrected Murderer: Roland Joseph Sable was a photography teacher who well alive had four teenagers brutally murdered. He was eventually killed but his evil spirit remains and is now attached to his camera. In the present, Sable begins killing once more as a malevolent spirit.
  • The Reveal: At first, it seems Roland went Papa Wolf (in a horrible way) against the four teenagers who bullied his daughter to suicide... except it's revealed to be not the case, as it turns out that Ronald was sexually abusing Rebecca and the four teens were actually her friends. When they tried to get Rebecca to tell the truth, all but one were killed by Roland. Rebecca, feeling guilty on not helping her friends and trauma from the abuse, kills herself in grief. In the end, when Roland died, his soul became tied to the camera, and now he murders whoever has their picture taken with it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Lena tells the main characters that this was why Roland killed the three teenagers, since they caused his daughter to commit suicide. She's lying.
  • Shrinking Violet: Bird is this.
  • Sole Survivor: Sheriff Pembrooke is the only survivor of Roland's murders. Sadly, Roland's ghost still manages to kill him as an adult.
  • Sympathetic Magic: If a picture taken by the Polaroid is damaged, said damage will transfer to whoever is in the photo. This also works on Roland Sable.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Roland Sable's widow Lena turns out to be one.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Linda, the girl who takes her friend Sarah's picture at the beginning (indirectly getting her killed), never appears in the movie again.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The main protagonist is named Bird, because her father thought she looked like a cornish game hen at birth.