13 Cameras (2015) Movie Review - Creepy Landlord Spying on Shower Time Horror

Horror, Thriller | 87 min
13 Cameras Horror Movie Review
  • Director: Daniel Ringey, Victor Zarcoff
  • Actors: Neville Archambault, Sean Carrigan, PJ McCabe
  • Writers: Victor Zarcoff, Paul Yates, Paul Sanchez Iv
  • Producers: Ethan Rosenberg, Matthew McManus, Kevin McManus, Jim Cummings, Tony Yacenda, Benjamin Wiessner
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Nudity From Both Male And Female Characters. Shower Scenes Featuring Female Breasts, Buttocks And Male Buttocks As Well As Swimming Pool Scenes Featuring Mild Nudity. Moderate Violence, Profanity, Mild Sexual Content.
  • Horror, Thriller | 87 min

A newlywed couple move into a new house across the country only to find out that their marital issues are the least of their problems. Unbeknownst to them their grim and lascivious landlord has been spying on them from day one.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing voyeuristic horror movie 13 Cameras from 2015. I should stress that this movie is known as The Landlord in the UK. And as the working title Slumlord in Australia so keep an eye out for that to avoid confusion. 

13 Cameras takes us in to the home of a newlywed couple via the medium of of spy cameras located around the house. A nefarious landlord watches their every move. Spying on the couple in their most intimate moments. All while looking, frankly, horrendously creepy. If ever there was a reason to check, check, and triple check a newly rented house, this is it.

A Very Real Threat

There is something very effective about voyeuristic horror. The majority of us see our homes as something of a sanctuary from the evils of the world. You close your front door, the rest of the world is locked out and everything that goes on behind those doors is your own private concern; we feel safe. But what if that safe haven was compromised? What if our every action was exposed to a person wishing to take advantage of us? What if somebody could see everything we do? Would we feel safe then?

Indeed, this is a very real threat. We willingly place cameras in our front rooms, kitchens, and even in our most intimate places, bedrooms for example, with little regard to the risk. Imagine changing your clothes to get into bed without giving a second thought to the laptop sitting on your table. Only to find that someone was watching you the whole time.

No, Seriously

This is not fantasy, it is very much a reality. A fairly recent case involving a malicious individual spying on a young beauty queen. Before using the intrusion to black mail her. Is just one of many instances of criminals invading people’s privacy in the places they feel most at ease. 

Did you know that there are dozens of directory style websites sharing access to unprotected security camera systems, webcams, baby monitors, and more floating around on the internet? If you have a camera connected to an internet service and you don’t sufficiently protect your network, you are at risk.

Go and slap a bit of black tape over those webcams and then come back here to read this review. After that, check out our list of 25 Stalking and Voyeuristic Horror Movies Ranked to really scare yourself silly. Remember, if Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop camera, there is probably a good reason that you should too.

Enter 13 Cameras

This is where 13 Cameras comes in. There couldn’t be a much more harrowing invasion of privacy than having somebody watch your every move. Imagine somebody watching you as you scrub your intimate areas, trim your nose hair and sit on the toilet. The thought alone is positively horrifying. Which is exactly why it is such a brilliant setup for a horror or thriller movie and I am always intrigued whenever a movie like this appears.

13 Cameras follows a newlywed couple – Ryan (PJ McCabe) and Claire (Brianne Moncrief) as they move into a rented home. Obviously falling in love with the place, Claire puts aside reservations about the Landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) and agrees to make the place their home. Claire is heavily pregnant so the first thought on her mind is getting the home ready for their unborn child and enjoying their new life together.

It isn’t long before the bickering starts and cracks begin to show in the couple’s relationship. Ryan is, apparently, a compulsive liar who is spending an excessive amount of time around another woman. Claire is, obviously, unaware but attempting to make things work. Visits from friends reveal more cracks and everything starts to unfurl over a very slow 87 minute runtime. All the while we, the viewer, are watching along on a series of 13 cameras installed around the house by the suitably creepy landlord Gerald.

13 Cameras' Gerald, played by Neville Archambault

13 Cameras’ Gerald, played by the late Neville Archambault, is suitably creepy

An Interesting Gimmick

I think it is fair to say that, despite getting title billing, the cameras in 13 Cameras are mainly a gimmick. We have cameras placed all over the house but we tend to focus on only a couple. The poolside camera, bedroom camera, and the shower camera all seem to be featured pretty heavily. Obviously the shower and the bedroom are where we are at our most vulnerable so that makes sense.

I would hasten to say that we actually rarely view the action through the spy cameras. The majority of 13 Cameras is filmed in a standard horror movie fashion rather than going for an altogether Found Footage style. This will appeal more to some and less to others. I would actually have preferred an entirely found footage style approach but that’s just me.

13 Cameras' Gerald, played by Neville Archambault

You can probably guess what Gerald is going to do with Claire’s toothbrush

Some of the camera placements are pretty strange. There is one that focuses on just the top part of the shower and apparently never gets steamed up. Aside from how pointless the view is, I would love to know how this is accomplished. I can’t even find a “fog proof” shaving mirror to use in the shower let alone mount a camera in there and have perfect visibility.

We also have another pointless view as Gerald takes a stealthy trip over to the house, snorkel in hand, to install a camera in the pool. I am pretty sure this is purely so we can gawk at Ryan’s “friend” Hannah’s bum.. I can appreciate the final result but it seems like a lot of work for something you could get on google.

Hannah and Ryan from 13 Cameras

Apparently Ryan has managed to find two girls who don’t find him utterly intolerable

A Fair Bit of Tension

I think that is fair to say. Voyeuristic Horror movies always feature a decent level of tension and suspense and 13 Cameras is no stranger to that. It is occasionally effective and sometimes accomplishes what it set out to do. It is easy to buy into the setup and the movie does provoke a bit of squirming and feelings of unease. Particularly as Gerald spies on Claire as she showers.

The tension built up in the early stages of the movie starts to wane as events drag on, however. And, if you are anything like me, any good will the movie has built up will start to wane with it. Things just drag with no real progression only to suddenly snowball into an avalanche of ridiculous events. The plot of 13 Cameras is not an unbelievable one but some of the events are almost slapstick.

Suspending Disbelief

It really requires a lot of suspending of disbelief to enjoy, even by horror movie standards. I feel as though this shouldn’t be necessary given the very legitimate threat of this kind of thing happening. People are spied on every day and there are a lot of criminals who have been prosecuted for installing cameras in rental houses and hotel rooms. With this in mind, why do I have to ignore some of the ridiculous events to try and enjoy this movie?

Gerald goes into the house when the couple aren’t home, feeds their dog, hooks up a radio and installs new cameras. On a few occasions he is using a drill, throwing wood around, and generally making a mess. He even installs a toilet camera. How would neither of them notice this?

A Lot of Suspending Disbelief

Pregnant women have super human senses and would almost definitely smell freshly drilled wood. And did the couple not notice the amount of dust in the air? I can’t put up a shelf without creating a sandstorm that will sit in cracks and crevices for the next decade. A few wall plugs and a TV bracket and we will be cleaning up for weeks after.. How does Gerald keep it so clean?

Did they never clean the toilet and notice the camera? I think you would notice that while you are running the toilet duck around the rim. Was it not strange to them that their doggo wasn’t hungry whenever they went out? Apparently this landlord smelled disgusting. Wouldn’t the smell linger in the house after he had been sweating up a storm rigging the place up to look like the Big Brother house?

Many of the events in 13 Cameras are absolutely ridiculous and it gets to be majorly distracting towards the end. Gerald has a room in the house that the tenants are not allowed to go into and this room is used to hilarious effect. There is one scene towards the end involving said room where Claire is in the shower and Gerald has to rush over to sort something out while she showers. It is pure silliness and leaves you with so many questions.

On The Plus Side

On the plus side, Neville Archambault is absolutely fantastic as Gerald. He is pure creepiness in, what looks like, a 250lb frame. Perfect for the role and I am sure he will send shivers up some people’s spines. I wish the writer and director Victor Zarcoff would have given him some dialogue other than sounding like an ogre from Lord of the Rings but other than that he is great.

13 Cameras' Gerald, played by Neville Archambault

He doesn’t have much to say but Gerald sure says a lot with those creepy come to my basement eyes

Acting for the most part is fine, PJ McCabe, as Ryan, is probably the least remarkable of the cast but at least makes you sympathise with Claire due to how unlikable he is. Brianne Moncrief, as Claire, is decent, cheerful, fairly likable and deserves an award just for putting up with that terrible baby bump prosthetic that she wears throughout the movie. Other side characters are fine, nothing to write home about.

Cinematography is okay, I think most people will enjoy the nice mix of spy camera shots and high quality film shots. In all fairness to 13 Cameras, the first half of the movie really ropes you in thanks to the sense of vulnerability and just how bizarre of a person Gerald is.

13 Cameras' Claire played by Brianne Moncrief

Claire, played by Brianne Moncrief, has the least convincing baby bump ever

On The Negative Side

The movie just takes a nose dive from halfway in. The plot becomes almost slapstick at points and is far more likely to make you laugh than to actually scare you. The last 15 minutes are awful and you are just begging for it to end. The actual end is so ridiculous it will either make you laugh or regret seeing it through to the finish.

Pacing is really bad, there are sections in the middle that don’t need to be there and they just drag on. 87 minutes is far too long for this type of movie and, to be honest, it feels even longer than that. The sub-plot of the movie, though tied into the end, seems totally pointless and little more than filler to introduce another victim.

I would argue that there isn’t enough spy camera footage. I would have liked to have seen more everyday events from Claire while she is alone in the house. She is the vulnerable one in this movie so we need to relate to her more than the movie allows us to. We have the occasional scene with her doing stuff around the house as well as the occasional shower scene that works well for this type of movie but not enough to emphasise the threat she is under.

Should You Watch 13 Cameras?

Honestly, 13 Cameras is probably not worth a watch. If you are a big fan of Voyeuristic Horror, Home Invasion Horror, or just big creepy perverts then maybe you will enjoy 13 Cameras. Honestly there are better movies of this ilk such as Alone With Her which I will be reviewing shortly.

13 Cameras just doesn’t do enough; it is badly paced, slow, farcical, and not that interesting. The sense of threat towards the first half is pretty good but it starts to wane after awhile and events become silly and unbelievable. A great performance from Neville Archambault is not enough to save this movie from mediocrity.

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