A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Polaroid is a 2019 horror movie in which a teen girl finds an old camera that turns deadly to those who get their picture taken by it. There are two deaths by hanging, including a suicide, plus implied sexual abuse by a father of his daughter. A teen girl is shown getting verbally bullied in a flashback scene. A body is ripped in half, no blood or gore. Teens are shown tied up in chairs, pleading for their lives. Characters catch fire, suffer burns. There are jump scares throughout. One of the lead characters punches a police officer. Teens drink and smoke at a party. Finally, some profanity is heard, including "f--k you" which is said during a climactic scene.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In POLAROID, Bird (Kathryn Prescott) is an introverted teen who loves photography and works in an antique store. One day, a teen co-worker named Tyler, who has a crush on Bird, comes in to the store with a gift for Bird: an old Polaroid camera from the 1970s. She takes his picture with it before leaving for the day. Later, Bird attends a costume party with her friends and uses the camera to take a group picture. But Avery, the mean-girl hostess of the party, snatches the camera away from Bird long enough to take a selfie first. At the party, Sheriff Pembrooke (Mitch Pileggi) arrives and tells Bird that Tyler was found dead inside the antique store. Shortly after, Avery is found dead, her neck snapped. Looking at the photos taken from the camera, Bird notices a shadowy apparition in the background of each picture that transfers to the next picture after the people in the other pictures are killed. With the help of her friends Devin, Mina, and Connor (Tyler Young), Bird must find out the terrible secrets lurking within the camera, and find a way to stop it before she and her friends are also murdered.
Is it any good?
The entertainment value in this horror movie is, more often than not, unintentional. For instance, after the teens begin to learn that a malevolent spirit has killed two of their friends within the last 24 hours, one of the teens laments, "I mean, we shouldn't have to die just because we took a stupid picture!" The lighting in the movie seems to be almost entirely from nightlights on the "dim" setting, so much so that even a police interrogation is done practically in the dark. There's a drab darkness to practically every scene that, as Polaroid goes on, comes across as less a style choice and more of an attempt to cover up the action, or lack thereof.
The lead character is presented as an introvert who's unpopular at the local high school because she -- wait for it -- wears a scarf. The police are skeptical of the teens and their crazy story of a demon murderer who appears via a vintage camera. The opening scene has no real connection to the rest of the movie. The result is a horror movie that comes across as both trite and underdeveloped, a half-baked premise like something from an episode of Scooby-Doo.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movies. How does Polaroid compare to other horror movies you've seen?
How does this movie attempt to rely more on suspense rather than on blood and gore to scare the audience? Is it effective? Why or why not?
How is lighting, or the lack thereof, used to set a style and mood in the movie? How is lighting used in other movies?
- On DVD or streaming: September 17, 2019
- Cast: Kathryn Prescott, Tyler Young, Samantha Logan
- Director: Lars Klevberg
- Studio: Dimension Films
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Violence/terror, thematic elements, brief strong language, some teen drinking and drug material.
- Last updated: March 12, 2020
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