One Hour Photo (2002) Macabre Month of Horror #12

one hour photo robin williams
Cover of "One Hour Photo (Widescreen Edit...
Cover of One Hour Photo (Widescreen Edition)

‘One Hour Photo’ is a horror/thriller starring Robin Williams. You may think this is really strange casting decision. Robin Williams is mostly known for his comedy roles. A good number of those comedies are also geared towards little kids. But “One Hour Photo” is not one of those films.

The basic plot is that Robin Williams’ character works in the photo development section of a Walmart like conglomerate, and becomes obsessed with a particular family that he develops photos for. I think this is a very interesting concept. This family has developed their photo’s at this place for years. Robin Williams’ character has handled the photo’s of the birth of their children, sports, birthday parties, all noteworthy events. He feels as though he has gone through all of life’s most important experiences with this family. One of the opening lines of the film is a narration saying “People take photos of times they want to remember. You don’t take photos of things you want to forget.” This line is good foreshadowing and gets the viewer interested in the film from the very beginning.

He continuously tries to get closer to the family, but the family does not share the same desire. He isn’t obsessed in the common movie sense. He doesn’t want to kill them, or do anything sexual, he just wants to be part of their family. He doesn’t even want to take the role of one of the existing family members, he thinks of himself as an uncle.

So how does Robin Williams do in a horror role? Fan-freaking-tastic! His performance is amazing. The screenplay, directing, cinematography; all very good, but they could suck, and his performance would carry the movie. Robin Williams really is a great actor. The man doesn’t get the credit he deserves sometimes. He play’s this role very subtly and makes it work perfectly. He has this perfectly creepy smile. All of his emotions come off as very real.

There is a line where Robin Williams says that he broke his collar bone falling out of a tree. I’m not sure if this was the intention or not, but I get the impression that he was probably watching someone from a tree and fell.

There are a lot of long shot’s with no dialogue and pulsating tension music. These shots work really well especially in the sets designed for this movie. Most of the set’s are very bright and immaculate. Almost sterile looking. Lot’s of stark blank white walls. All this adds to the creep factor. The soundtrack is great. All droning pulsating themes, that continue to amplify.

In a particularly creepy scene; he goes into the family’s house, and doesn’t do anything. He just lives there for a few hours. He eats their food, watches their TV, even wears their clothes. He almost seems like an obsessive fan. They could have easily made the movie about a fan of some movie star who stalks them, but instead it is just a normal family that this man has grown a strong attachment to.

For a movie about photo development there are an awful lot of bad shots. There are quite a few shots where the lighting is all off, and the picture is browned out and hard to see.

The movie isn’t very horrifying, it’s creepy though. Nobody dies, and there isn’t really any blood, except for one dream sequence, which is great. The horror comes from how realistic the situation is, and how easily possible it is for something like this to happen.

Near the end of the movie he starts to do more extreme things.  I actually feel like this took away a little bit of the creepiness, but the progression was well paced, so it still works. Very close to the end of the movie, Robin Williams makes this face, which I swear is one of the creepiest faces I’ve ever seen. You really believe that this guy is insane.

“One Hour Photo” is very underrated. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s worth it just to see Robin William’s go crazy, in a different way than usual.

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