Julie is a camera buff. She has a new idea for the class picture and runs to tell her advisor about it but finds him meeting with her rival David. David's dad is a manager at some camera store and thinks he's hot shit. When she gets an assignment, he just randomly shows up and take photos anyway. Julie tells her teacher about her idea, David butts in, and the teacher decides to turn it into a competition as to who will take the class picture.
The next day, she goes bike riding with her best friend Reena. They come across a yard sale, and Julie finds an old camera. The lady running the sale flips out and tells her to drop it and leave. Her daughter comes up and tells Julie to just take it. When she gets home, her mom has to tell her how a Polaroid camera works, which suddenly makes me feel uber old.
Julie takes her picture, and Reena complains because she has red eye in it. When Julie tries to scan and edit it, the picture gets worse. Reena suddenly starts screaming in pain and her eyes turn bright red. They have to call her parents to come and take her to the doctor. Her best friend then refuses to talk to her and blames her.
She goes to the girls basketball game and finds David there trying to take over her assignment again. Julie trips and breaks the lens on her digital camera but luckily has the old camera with her. When she takes a picture of one of the players, the image only shows her arm. Suddenly, the same girl breaks her arm and they have to call the paramedics.
David then grabs her camera and tries to take a picture. It gets stuck halfway in the camera, and she gets weird pains in her stomach. Right before she passes out, she pulls the picture out and her pain goes away. Though she tries to take the camera back, the house is now empty, so she leaves it sitting with a stuffed monkey. By the time she gets home, both the camera and the monkey are in her room. No matter what she does, the camera just keeps coming back. She even throws it in a pond, but it just comes back a little wet.
Upset, she heads to the camera store. David's dad looks it up and finds that it's the only camera of its type and was supposed to film some horror movie in the 50s that production ended after a string of weird accidents. Julie runs away from the store and tells him to keep it.
David shows up with the same camera the next day. He tells her that he was the one bringing the camera back to her and that he was following her. He just wanted to freak her out and make her stop trying to beat him. David then accidentally takes a picture of these two mean girls, which shows them with thick green skin. Their skin changes, they accuse her of being a witch, and she runs away with the camera.
When she gets home, her little brother tries to grab the camera from her, which leads to him taking a picture of himself with a bee for a face. He then trips and takes a second picture, which shows her falling. He suddenly develops weird hair all over his face, and their parents rush him to the hospital.
Julie finds out that she won the big competition. She gets to stand on the high dive and take a picture of all the students standing in the swimming pool. This also makes her think that this is where she'll fall to her death. She's so freaked out that she lets David take the picture. David loses his balance, starts to fall, and barely holds on. Julie runs up to save him and falls herself, but David grabs her and helps her.
After bonding and agreeing to work together from now on, Julie runs home. She thinks that she finally beat the old camera. All the pictures go back to normal, and her mom calls to say that her brother and her classmates are now fine. Julie sets the camera on her dresser in a way that will let her take a picture in the mirror, which she hopes will cause something bad to happen to the camera. Instead, the finished picture shows two evil cameras sitting side by side.
Julie gets an invitation to HorrorLand, and unlike all the other books, she goes by herself. Not long after entering the park, she sees Horrors chasing some kids and takes pictures. One of the Horrors comes up to her and demands her camera. When she refuses, he grabs it, takes out the memory card, and throws it into the woods.
The kids then run up to her and give her an abbreviated story of what happened to them. They all go to the Tunnel of Screams, get separated, and she then hears her own screams. When she gets out, a Horror named Byron approaches her, whispers a few things to her, and gives her something before running away. The "something" is a mirror that shows her looking all gross, so she tosses it in the trash.
When she meets up with the group again, they all freak out because a mirror is the key to escape. They go back to the trash can, but some Horrors are emptying it. Julie then suggests that they just go out the front gate, like they never considered that before. A Horror runs up and stamps their hands before the gates open and they walk out. Unfortunately, the stamps on their hands come to life, sprout vines, and take over their bodies. Julie briefly wonders if this is how she'll die before the book ends.
*Parents in these books are always so awful. Her parents yell at her for not letting her little brother play with the camera. Yes, because little kids are always so careful with things.
*Also, some girl in her class spits her gum at her from the backseat of her parents' car. Rather than scolding her, they just drive off.