Fetish photographer Billy (Adam Wingard) stages elaborate shoots around his fixations, photographing women in various stages of undress and death. When one of Billy’s models winds up actually dead, depressed and romantically disillusioned investigator Michael (Simon Barrett), suffering through a crumbling relationship himself, knocks on his door and discovers a world he struggles to understand — in Billy’s art, as well as his apparent ease at juggling professional and intimate relationships with a committed girlfriend and various models. Jealousy runs high, and meanwhile, a killer is still on the loose.
Modeled after erotic thrillers of the 1990s late-night cable variety, 24 EXPOSURES digs at the creative relationship of the screenwriter/director duo of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard (Fantasia regulars, from A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE to YOU’RE NEXT and V/H/S/2, both playing this year!) by casting them opposite each other, alongside up-and-comers such as Sophia Takal (GREEN, ALL THE LIGHT IN THE SKY), Helen Rogers (Swanberg’s video chat segment in V/H/S, the tremendous short JACK ATTACK) and Caroline White (MARRIAGE MATERIAL). Through the investigation, both get to know each other, and it is an entire working relationship that is laid bare, albeit twistedly explored within the kind of meta-fictional narrative that only Swanberg can so seamlessly construct. 24 EXPOSURES finds Swanberg at his most straightforward and playful, yet is also in keeping with his more pared-down, reflexive works (such as 2011’s ART HISTORY or SILVER BULLETS), offering a subtle, but efficient exploration of the legitimacy of art, the processes of subterfuge and the particulars of pulpy storytelling, without dispensing of the director’s habitual focus on sex and lustful, hurtful interpersonal relationships.
24 EXPOSURES seems to mark a new chapter in the filmmaker’s oeuvre, and between this and the Olivia Wilde-starring romantic comedy DRINKING BUDDIES, set to be released later this summer, hyper-prolific, love-him-or-hate-him filmmaker Joe Swanberg confirms yet again he is one of the most fearless, exploratory voices in American filmmaking — whose unparalleled productivity and relentless exploration of recurring themes is met perhaps only by international filmmakers like Hong Sang-soo, and whose hits, as well as misses, culminate into one of the most unique, ever-building and important bodies of work in contemporary cinema.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer