I do love J-Horror, so when Woman of the Photographs appeared on the list for Frightfest. I was excited. The film had attracted critical acclaim following it’s appearance at Fantasia.
I will say from the outset that I would not categorise this film as Horror. At All.
A former prima ballerina, Kyoko has apparently become a lifestyle influencer on Instagram.
Kai is less the misogynist described in the logline, and more convincingly terrified of Kyoko and his developing feelings. It is revealed that he has never had a girlfriend. That much is obvious to the point of comedy. Kai spends the majority of the film being unable to speak to Kyoko and when there is a sex scene it is fast and awkward. Kai’s fear of being consumed by his feelings is portrayed by the deliberate
The film does provide an interesting commentary on our obsession with our image social media and there is a powerful piece of dialogue between Kyoko and a young woman who comes to the studio to have her photos retouched.
“I believe myself reflecting in the eyes of others is my true self […] because we love ourselves through others eyes”
The sentiment expressed in those lines will haunt me, especially as it beautifully summarises this generations obsession with obtaining likes and followers on social media.
The Woman of the Photographs deftly shows the dark side of being an influencer. When Kyoko meets
Whilst the characters are an apparent contrast to each other, I am not convinced that they develop in a meaningful way. Kai apparently loses his fear of speaking to Kyoko, and she gets the medical help she so desperately needs. However, this there overall character arcs are lacking, as is the plotline which does not culminate in a way that would be appealing to the horror audience. Whilst there are comedic elements, it falls short of being able to call itself a comedy-horror.
This film is an unusual watch, and a disappointing one at that.