Snapshot (or Day After Halloween) is a 1979 Australian drama film. Don’t let it fool you, it is not a thriller. It’s more of a “I wanted to be a thriller but I forgot to create suspense so we threw everything and the kitchen sink in at the end” sort of movie.
In the US, it was sold as The Day After Halloween to capitalise on the success of Halloween. And get it? Today is November first? But alas, this film really has nothing to do with Halloween or Carpenter’s Halloween. But the biggest problem here is that this is not a horror movie. It’s barely a thriller.
This isn’t a bad film. Rather I vaguely enjoyed it. But when the film posters and title are so incredibly misleading, it does feel a bit like being lied to. One film poster with the title Day After Halloween, has the tagline, “They thought the horror was over but the real horror!!! began…” (on the day after Halloween, get it? Clever.) The poster then continues on, warning you to stay away from your attic and doors. But don’t worry, this also has nothing to do with the plot of the movie.
In Snapshot, a young girl named Angela lives an incredibly sheltered life. At 19, she still lives with her mother and her young sister. Her attempts to break free and forge her own life are rather thin.
She works as a hairdresser at a salon where Madeline, a model, is a regular customer. Madeline is determined to make a model out of Angela, but the younger girl is reluctant to give up on her job at the salon, the one her mother got for her. But one day, she reluctantly agrees to meet with a photographer.
Madeline whisks Angela away to a flat where photographer Linsey agrees to put the girl in his next photoshoot for a cologne. Poor, naive Angela can’t grasp that the photoshoot will be outside during the Australian winter, topless. She resists the idea, but eventually grows to like the idea when Madeline tells her she’ll be paid $1000 for a half-day’s work.
As the girls exit the apartment, Angela begins to panic when she sees a Mr Whippy ice cream van waiting outside. She pulls Madeline aside and tell her that the driver is her ex-boyfriend, Daryl. She explains that the man has been stalking her since they broke up. Later, Angela spots the van again then sees Daryl talking to her little sister.
Determined to finally make her own way, Angela follows through with the shoot. While initially awkward, Linsey manages to get a good shot. To celebrate, Angela and Madeline go to the disco together. But when Angela returns home in the early hours of the morning, she finds herself both locked out and kicked out of her house. Desperate, Angela goes to stay in Linsey’s apartment/studio where many other bohemians are living.
Angela eventually learns to like the ad, despite being worried that she’ll be recognised. One night, her mother shows up at the apartment, demanding to know what her daughter is doing. She tells Angela that she found the cash stored away in her drawer. Her mother also says that Angela’s sister has been injured in an accident, and that Daryl has been around to help.
She manages to get rid of her manipulative mother after showing off the cologne ad. Feeling guilty, Angela gives her mother the money to help with her sister’s hospital bills.
At the disco one night, Angela meet’s Madeline’s beard – her director husband Elmer. Angela warms up to Elmer, and is invited to a party at the house. The young actress agrees, believing that it will be a party.
When she arrives at Madeline’s house, Elmer tells Angela that Madeline will be late for a commercial shoot. He wines and dines the young girl, promising her roles in Hollywood films. He eventually coaxes her into taking some photographs to send to a producer. But Angela becomes aware she’s being duped when the man asks her to take off her clothes.
Angela leaves feeling humiliated, and tries to return to the salon to speak to her old boss. While she’s there, she sees her sister, whose leg is completely fine. Angela realises her mother also manipulated her. Then Madeline tries to make a move on Angela, who never truly understood her friend’s sexuality. Angela rejects Madeline, making their relationship uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Angela begins to find strange and horrible things in her room, like the head of a pig. Seriously unnerved (and still being stalked by Daryl), Angela agrees to take a job from a man she met on a dancefloor. She’s told that she needs to leave the next morning, and she heads off to say goodbye to Madeline.
But when Angela see’s Daryl again, she becomes hysterical and runs. She evades her ex-boyfriend, and in a panic, calls Elmer for help. The director tells Angela to go to his studio.
When Angela arrives, she finds that Elmer’s studio is empty. She goes into one of the rooms, and sees that it’s completely covered in her photograph from the cologne ad. Before she can make her exit, Elmer arrives and locks them both into the studio. He demands to take her photo, and begins to force the girl to strip.
A crazed Elmer begins pouring gasoline in the room and over Angela before starting a fire. But Angela fights back, and attacks her assailant. Elmer falls to the ground and becomes completely engulfed in the fire.
Thankfully stalker Daryl is so good at his stalking. He manages to find Angela, who is able to escape. The two leave the sight of the fire unnoticed and leave in Daryl’s Mr Whippy van.
Angela insists that she needs to leave for her job, but Daryl tries yet again to make her stay. But before she can be convinced, someone runs over the man with his very own ice cream van. The killer hops out of the van, and takes Angela away.
It isn’t until these last few scenes that Snapshot becomes the film that it tries to be. Much of the script doesn’t make a very good job of explaining why things are happening to Angela. They just seem to happen. The reveal of the killer is so quick, that it almost doesn’t make sense (half a star for a half-baked twist).
If it had been fleshed out, The Day After Halloween could have been better. But we don’t know why Daryl is such a stalker because we barely get to see him on screen. While these things can make sense with leaps of logic, it doesn’t make for the most compelling or suspenseful of films.
Alas, this film doesn’t bring any of the chills or thrills it really should have.