31 Days of Reviews: 13 Cameras (2015)

A young couple’s marital problems are the least of their worries when they move into a new rental property. Little do they know, their landlord has installed secret cameras throughout the home, and he’s hiding some other sinister things as well.

It was a bit difficult to find out any information about 13 Cameras. This may be because it has an alternate title, Slumlord. You can find limited information about the film by searching either of these titles, but 13 Cameras appears to be the main, operating title.

I’m honestly surprised that I can’t find much about it. I saw the trailer for 13 Cameras while on one of my YouTube searches looking for new horror titles. It was added to my Netflix list as soon as I found out it was available for streaming, and here we are.

13 Cameras starts out by giving the viewer some pretty alarming statistics. These numbers are all about the amount of people who are filmed in their homes without their knowledge. It does a good job of setting the tone for the movie,¬†especially since it’s immediately followed by the first image of a man purchasing cameras that he plans on installing in a home. We soon find out that the home in question isn’t his. It’s a home that he will be renting out to the main characters of the film.

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This is all well and good. I don’t know how accurate the statistics are that start the film, but it definitely put me on edge. This is solidified by immediately jumping into creepy. By “creepy”, I don’t mean “scary”. I mean creepy. I definitely have to give props to the actor who played the creepy landlord, Neville Archambault. He just jumped right into it. He was gruff, one of those silent types that just gives off a bad aura. His character wasn’t very articulate. He would speak in short sentences, and he would often not speak at all. I was also thrown for a loop because it looked like he never blinked. He gave a very good performance.

The bulk of the story in 13 Cameras is alright. I mean, I was taken aback by how little mystery there was for most of it. It was known that the cameras were there from the very beginning. It was obvious that we were supposed to be creeped out by the landlord from the beginning. I may have been more intrigued if we were supposed to discover the cameras at the same time as the main characters. I’m not sure. Since the cameras were there the whole time, it was more of a voyeur picture than anything.

The story picks up in the last half hour or so. At this point, the landlord starts to take a more aggressive role in the story, and this is where I started to get more interested. It turns the home invasion narrative on its head. Is it still a home invasion when the invader has a set of keys? It was definitely an interesting dynamic. It hit close to home (pun intended). The thought of someone coming into my home whenever they like is completely horrifying.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the antagonist of 13 Cameras and haven’t mentioned the protagonists at all. This is because they are pretty unlikeable. The main characters are a married couple, in the middle of a pregnancy, and the husband is horrible. The wife has her own things that make her unlikeable, but for me they were completely overshadowed by her husband. She’s a pregnant woman. What do you expect? It’s really hard to feel for them for most of the movie. Acting wasn’t an issue in this. The actors did a good job. It’s just the characters.

From a production standpoint, I really liked a lot of the camera work. In other movies, I might complain, but for this particular story, I thought it worked really well. There were a lot of extreme close ups to emphasize the nature of the landlord. Some of the shots were slightly off to the side, so you could hear what was going on, but the view was obscured. It really fit the voyeuristic nature of it all.

As a slight negative, I thought the music and sound was a bit overbearing. It felt like they were trying to make you feel tension that wasn’t there yet. It would have been more effective if it was used in specific parts, but I heard it a lot more than I felt was necessary. It’s a slight negative in an otherwise solid movie.

The climax is pretty great, but the ending leaves some to be desired. It appears to be the debut feature from writer/director Victor Zarcoff. It’s not bad for a first time. It relies heavily on the stalker trope, a home run performance by Archambault. If you’re a fan of home invasion type stories, then you might like 13 Cameras.

The movie has pretty decent reviews online. It ranges from average to slightly above average. I wasn’t a huge fan, so I probably wouldn’t recommend the movie, but as I mentioned above, it could be something that you may enjoy. It’s not bad by any means.

Sneak a peek at the trailer below, and see if 13 Cameras is for you!

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