Welcome to Knockout Horror and, for our review today, we are spending some more of our lockdown with Gerald the slumlord. If you haven’t read our review of voyeuristic horror movie 13 Cameras then you probably have no clue what I am talking about so feel free to go check it out first.
As you may recall, 13 Cameras took place in a single house rented from Gerald by a newlywed couple. Well, Gerald apparently has an entire property portfolio as we are in a completely different house for 14 Cameras with completely different people. Expanding on the 13 Cameras universe with holiday rentals, dark web shenanigans, and contrived kidnapping plots, how does 14 Cameras hold up? Let’s take a look.
In our review of 13 Cameras we spoke about the very real threat of voyeurism in the modern age. There are many cases of criminals accessing people’s home security systems, baby monitors and even personal webcams through unsecured networks. It is a genuine concern for anyone who decides to place any form of internet connected camera in their home. The idea of a person spying on your every move is absolutely terrifying for the majority of people and the feeling of violation would stick with you for some time. With this in mind, voyeurism, in all of its guises, makes for a fantastic horror subject.
Whereas 13 Cameras decided to eschew the “person hacking into a camera network” theme for a more traditional “person installing spy cameras in a house” theme; 14 Cameras attempts to bring everything up to date with some dark web references.
14 Cameras uses a potentially more believable scenario for Gerald’s voyeuristic adventures. Whereas 13 Cameras was set in a rental home that immediately begged questions of logic, 14 Cameras is set in a rented holiday home. You no longer have to wonder how the people that live in the home permanently have not spotted the badly hidden cameras or how they don’t notice someone coming into their house while they are out. The idea that someone would accept things as they are in a place they will only be staying in for a week is true for the majority of people.
The holiday home setting is far more viable for this type of intrusion. There are actually numerous cases of this exact thing happening. There have been a huge number of people caught spying on families through hidden cameras and peep holes in B&Bs, holiday homes, and even hotel rooms. It is a very real issue and anyone that doesn’t check a room, or holiday home, they are renting for cameras or suspicious holes is doing themselves a disservice. Even your keyhole is a potential view into your private life for a voyeur as American sports presenter Erin Andrews found out. It may seem far fetched but, contrary to what some may think, 14 Cameras has a much more believable premise than many other horror movies.
I’ll start off this review by pointing out that 14 Cameras is very much more of the same. If you know the plot of the first movie then you are half way there with the second movie. A couple wants to get away for a few weeks, they find a gorgeous home that appears to be cheap for what they want and so they book it and pack their stuff. $420 a night doesn’t seem cheap to me but I am not a middle-upper class American so what do I know? The price could be a vague drug reference, that would fit right into the maturity level of the 13/14 Cameras film so maybe? Seems very specific.
The couple make the trip bringing along their daughter, her friend, and, I am assuming, young son who is pretty reluctant to go. I say assuming he is young because the dude looks like he is in his mid 20s but apparently needs babysitting. American movies never seem to feature anyone who actually looks the age they are supposed to be so this is pretty much par for the course.
When the family arrives they begin to enjoy what basically amounts to their everyday life in a nicer, more temporary, environment. They don’t notice anything amiss until the daughter’s friend has intimate items vanish. Obviously the son gets the blame because why else would he be in the movie? It certainly isn’t for his acting skills or character development. Arguments ensue, relationships become awkward, and things take a pretty bad turn for the worst. All the while Gerald the Slumlord is watching and sharing their every move with the world.
It’s hard to say much more than that without giving away the whole plot but, honestly, this is such a “by the numbers” movie that you can probably guess.
Remember that interesting gimmick from the original 13 Cameras? We could see what was going on through the cameras and we checked on them frequently? Well that is totally spoiled in 14 Cameras. A new directing team seems to have taken a completely different approach with 14 Cameras. Gone from the directing role, but still writing, is Victor Zarcoff and in comes Scott Hussion and Seth Fuller and with their arrival comes a much more traditional style of filming. We have far less of the interesting, voyeuristic shots from the hidden cameras, far less emphasis on the spying, and more of a slasher approach.
We no longer see things through Gerald’s eyes and with his motivation. With the exception of a pointless shot of a woman in the shower, there is no perverse focus on the intimate moments of the characters. Gerald is a moneymaking dynamo now who barely cares for temptations of the flesh. Sure, it is hinted at and the cameras are still used but Gerald has more pressing concerns.
Gerald is now the star of the show, not the cameras. We follow Gerald to different venues to commit his crimes, we watch him attack people, we see the results of his attacks, but we rarely dip into what made 13 Cameras relatively unique. The spying aspect is somewhat in the background and no longer the main focus of the show.
There is similar focus on drama to the original but there appears to be far more of it now. There is actually so much going on in 14 Cameras that it begins to feel messy almost right away. The story could have really used a rewrite to tighten everything up and trim a ton of fat.
From the start of the movie we have to follow a plot line featuring a young couple living together, a family renting a holiday home, Gerald kidnapping people, a separate plot line involving two women trapped together, a plot line featuring a young boy, a plot line focusing on the younger members of the household, the spy cameras, and the dark web subplot. Most of them intersect at the end of the movie in an explosion of chaos that comes, pretty much, out of nowhere but some just fizzle off into the ether. It’s just horribly untidy and the 90 minute run time feels chaotic.
13 Cameras placed all of its focus on the couple in question and Gerald as he spied on them. Some may argue that this was a little too boring but at least the plot was tight and tied up nicely at the end.
14 Cameras appears to be aiming for a younger audience than 13 Cameras and I think it suffers for that. Sure, I can imagine a group of teens watching it and being grossed out by Gerald and spooked by the thought of being spied on but, as a film, 14 Cameras is worse for its teen focus. Lowering the age of the bulk of the characters, 14 Cameras quickly staggers into teen horror movie tropes. Scenes are padded with the usual teen horror movie fodder such as talk about guys, smoking weed, and trying to hide bottles of alcohol from parents. The things you are expecting to happen do actually happen and the unlikable characters make it hard to care.
Unfortunately, we spend a lot of our time in 14 Cameras with Molly (Brytnee Ratledge) and her friend Danielle (Amber Midthunder) who are both just obnoxious. They are cliched, typical teen girls with no personality played by actors who will likely be playing these types of roles until the wrinkle monster takes them and they don’t fit the bill anymore. Neither bring anything to their respective roles and both could probably benefit from starring in some low budget indie movies to learn how to emote. Amber Midthunder, in particular, has literally one expression she uses throughout the entire movie, regardless of what is going on. Sure the writers don’t give them much to work with but that’s no reason for bringing nothing to a role.
Molly’s brother Kyle (John Paul-Howard) has even less to work with as he is really only there to give potheads someone to relate to and to take the blame for what’s happening. He isn’t even comic relief, something this movie could definitely use. The only laughs come from how bad some of the scenes are.
Neville Archambault as Gerald is still brilliantly creepy. I would actually say he is almost becoming an anti-hero as far as these films are concerned. He has a lot more charisma in this movie and speaks a lot more than he did in 13 Cameras. He actually has a few snappy lines that make you giggle and you can’t help but feel sorry for him having to watch those annoying girls for so long just to catch site of a nipple or a naked bum. At least he is making good money from it thanks to his Dark Web venture.
Neville Archambault has been allowed to work with Gerald a lot more in this movie. He is a slightly more developed character and he has multiple ventures. He still mainly moans and groans while gurning hilariously but there is a bit more depth there.
Well, the movie isn’t awful. It is actually watchable I suppose. Sure the script is bad, the plot lines are messy and the acting is bad but for a quick horror movie to throw on while you are playing a video game or browsing the web, 14 Cameras is fine.
Cinematography is okay, it has a few suspenseful moments towards the middle and end, and there is a likable character or two buried in there somewhere. It’s just not the type of film you want to grab a bucket of popcorn and watch intently, though.
Honestly, the same as with 13 Cameras, no I wouldn't. I like voyeuristic horror movies but this feels diluted even compared to 13 Cameras. There is less of the spying and more of the formulaic garbage that you see in every other teen horror movie. Characters are annoying, the plot is messy, the acting is bad, there is just so little to recommend. If you want to throw something on while you are doing something else, you may find this to fit the bill nicely. If you are in your teens and want something to watch with your mates at a sleepover, this might be fine; Gerald is sure to gross out your friends and the teen characters may not annoy you as much. If you are actually looking for something good or are looking for a decent Voyeuristic horror movie, avoid.
As Always, I will add that this is just my opinion and you may actually love 14 Cameras. Don't avoid it just because I don't recommend it. The horror movie industry needs support so why not give it a watch and see what you think? The worst thing that can happen is you waste 90 minutes of your life and have a crap movie to moan about with your friends.