Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Film Review: 13 Cameras (2015)

13 Cameras (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not a bad film to kill 90 minutes, but it is disappointing considering its potential."

A newlywed couple move into a new house to start a new life, oblivious of the cameras their landlord has secretly installed in their home...

13 Cameras is a very simple horror/drama film. The film follows our newlywed couple, Claire (Brianne Moncrief) and Ryan (PJ McCabe), and their eccentric landlord (Neville Archambault). So, Claire and Ryan move into this new house and live their lives while their landlord watches every moment. It's almost like watching two different films: in one movie, Claire and Ryan are having extremely clich̩ marital problems Рneedy/moody pregnant wife, cheating husband, secrets that can break their relationship, etc; in the other, the landlord watches them while they have these problems. It follows this repetitive cycle Рmarital issues, landlord watches or visits the house while they're gone, marital issues, and so on Рuntil the very end. The ending was a bit creepy, but it was a tad disappointing. It didn't really hit home or leave an impression.

13 Cameras is not the worst film I've ever seen. Hell, I wouldn't even consider it a 'bad' film. (Trust me, I've seen a lot of bad films.) The concept of the film is eerie on its own. It makes your skin crawl thinking about who may be watching you. (Hell, I might even be watching you through your webcam right now. 🙃) This concept is fueled by the creepy antagonist – the landlord. Sure, he may not have a lot of depth, but he still delivers what we came for – dread. He's creepy, he's ominous, and he's, well, creepy. There are some truly unnerving scenes in here thanks to the concept and antagonist. This film has quite a bit going for it, really.

Unfortunately, 13 Cameras is also riddled with flaws. For one, there isn't much of a plot here. You're really just watching a drama about a broken couple with a few creepy scenes inserted between the arguments/cheating/complaining. On top of that, it's repetitive and predictable. Then,, you have the forgettable characters. Perhaps it's because I'm not a fan of clich̩ romance, but these characters were annoying and dull РI just couldn't find a reason to root for anyone. Like I said, I liked the landlord, but he really needed a stronger motive. If it was because he was pure evil, that should have been emphasized. The stupidity of characters in horror movies never ceases to amaze me, too. You find a basement your landlord lied about in your house and you decide to ignore it? What the hell is wrong with you?

Okay, okay, back to the good. The acting was fine. I didn't like the characters, but Brianne Moncrief and PJ McCabe were more than serviceable. Neville Archambault stole the show with his creepy performance, though. The film was shot well, too. I didn't have any issues with the technical side. Writer and director Victor Zarcoff found himself with a truly creepy concept. Unfortunately, in terms of writing, he never truly develops that concept into a frightening story with interesting characters. Instead, he opts for the safe route, sticking to the road that has been traveled thousands of times before him. In terms of direction, Zarcoff crafts a more than competent film with solid performances and an occasionally creepy atmosphere. I hope to see more from him in the future, especially in the director's chair, but perhaps with a more thorough story. This felt more like a short film that was stretched out.

Overall, 13 Cameras is a decent horror film. It has a truly unnerving concept, some very creepy scenes, and some great performances. Unfortunately, it uses all of the above as a crutch due to its other shortcomings – a predictable and repetitive plot, dull characters (except for the landlord), and a few glaring plot contrivances. It's not a bad film to kill 90 minutes, but it is disappointing considering its potential. (By the way, this is not a found footage film.)

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some nudity.

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