By Nikki Busalacchi
I recently learned about a guy on YouTube who purposely gets bitten by bugs and snakes to show his audience, but warns them to never try it at home. I never thought I would be that guy, but at 9pm yesterday evening, I found myself watching a horror movie – wait for it – on the treadmill. While I survived this one unscathed, I’m gonna preface this one with a don’t try this at home.
Ryan (PJ McCabe) and Claire (Brianne Moncrief), a pregnant couple, rent a seemingly cozy house from Gerald (Neville Archambault), the creepiest landlord you could imagine. Immediately, it’s revealed that Gerald has wired the entire house with cameras and microphones – right down to the bathroom shower. Although Gerald’s intentions start out as “harmless” voyeurism, issues within the marriage inspire Gerald to take matters into his own hands. Carefully timing his house calls and quickly befriending the family dog with frequent fast food deliveries, Claire and Ryan have no idea what’s going on right under their noses – or just how dangerous their situation is becoming. However, slipups all around leave the marriage hanging on by a thread, and danger lurking behind every locked door. The moral of the story: if you’re renting, change your locks.
Was it a good movie? Absolutely. Did it give me the heebie-jeebies? Hell yes. Was I satisfied with the ending? For sure, but maybe that’s because I’m a little bit of a sociopath. Another directorial debut, this film was a rollercoaster of emotion – from the creepy homeowner to the hot homewrecker, it’s unlikely that you won’t have an opinion about every character at the end of the hour and a half. If you have any issue with cheating, the parallel plot involving Ryan and his assistant Hannah will make your blood boil – and this involvement, unbeknownst to all of them, puts them in even more danger than you might guess.
Visually, it was a guilty pleasure to watch a vulnerable couple from the better side of 13 cameras, and the dramatic irony of Ryan’s affair and Gerald’s close calls left me sweating more than usual. The realistic situation allows for a long-lasting fear – I checked my shower thoroughly before turning it on – and though the entire film is shot within the house, clips of Gerald watching from his own apartment shed light on the personalities and diversities of the characters. If you’re not the jump-scare or blood-and-guts type, don’t worry, 13 Cameras is tame in terms of gore and surprises. Psychologically, however, this film will get under your skin. All in all, a good flick for movie night if you don’t have a landlord.
Available on Netflix and Amazon Video for $2.99 rental.