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‘24 Exposures’: Mumblecore meets softcore meets big bore

SophiTakal plays one models inexplicably drawn fetish photographer Billy (Adam Wingard) “24 Exposures.”  |  JOE SWANBERG/24 Frames LLC

Sophia Takal plays one of the models inexplicably drawn to fetish photographer Billy (Adam Wingard) in “24 Exposures.” | JOE SWANBERG/24 Frames LLC

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Billy Adam Wingard

Mike Simon Barrett

Alex Carolyn White

Rebecca Helen Rogers

IFC Midnight presents a film written and directed by Joe Swanberg. Running time: 74 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre.

Updated: March 8, 2014 6:10AM

There’s not much difference between this nudity-packed yet remarkably dull crime drama and the ’90s-vintage, sleazy pay-cable erotic thrillers it’s referencing, if not emulating.

Except that there was a certain amount of professional gloss, at least, to the soft-core fare that could be found on Cinemax After Dark.

One of several recent efforts from the wildly prolific Chicago writer-director-actor Joe Swanberg, who’s made 15 micro-budgeted feature films since 2005 (including early mumblecore efforts like “Hannah Takes the Stairs” and last year’s “Drinking Buddies”), “24 Exposures” comes across like a clever idea that never got past the concept stage. It might have been fun for him to make, but it’s definitely a chore to sit through. Even at 74 minutes.

Fellow indie filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (who directed and wrote last year’s retro-slasher “You’re Next,” respectively) are featured as an erotic photographer being investigated, sort of, by a suicidally depressed homicide detective. Billy, the artist in question, specializes in grisly faked photos of topless dead women who either have killed themselves or been brutally murdered. When one of his former models turns up similarly dead — and similarly nude — detective Mike, who’s broken-hearted over a bad breakup (Billy calls him “Mr. Mopey”), naturally decides to check him out.

Presumably, we’re supposed to be wondering whether or not Billy, who has an inexplicable ability to coax young women out of their clothes considering his rare blend of dorkiness and creepiness, is a murderous psycho. The question’s never really asked, though, and the answer doesn’t matter because he’s equally uninteresting either way.

Despite its suspense/thriller trappings, “24 Exposures” quickly defaults to Swanberg’s usual topic of relationship issues, explored with mumbled, inarticulate, improvised dialogue. In this case, the relationship is between Billy and his girlfriend/collaborator (Caroline White), who can’t decide whether or not it’s OK for him to bring home models for kinky sex.

Which is precisely the sort of thing, you know, that could drive a psycho killer crazy.

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