13 Cameras follows an expecting couple as they rent a new home and are unknowingly recorded by hidden cameras installed by the home's landlord. As the couple struggles to hold their marriage together, the landlord, Gerald, becomes increasingly more disturbed, and courageous, in his pursuit of invading the privacy of others.
With every fiber of my being, I wish this movie had started in the security camera store. It was the perfect introduction into this film. The opening sequence with the dozens of hidden camera shots, cheesily set to mouse clicks, with flashes of statistics about security camera purchases and being unknowingly filmed was weak, tropy, and frankly so laughable I almost turned the film off right there. But thankfully I stuck it out for the following scene, in which we meet our villain of the film as Gerald buys the equipment for which the film was named.
I want to say right out I'm not cheering for the guy. He's a horrible person, and has no redeemable qualities, nor any apparent fuel for empathy. He is simply the type of person we wish was, at the very least, marked on Google Maps for predatory caution. Neville Archambault was so good at playing the quintessential predator that I have to give the actor his due for his performance. It was unsettling and haunting to endure his behavior, but it was one of the most silently malevolent deliveries I've seen in a long time.
The husband in the film makes you wonder just which guy is worse. Okay, obviously it's the One Hour Photo-like antagonist...but the husband pushes his luck at times. His selfishness is outmatched only by the predator's gruesome and disturbing behavior.
The acting and writing felt alive and fresh for most of the film, but it seemed to struggle in moments at the beginning and midway through, as it sometimes rested on the shoulders of its villainous lead and spot-on directing to keep the tension and interest piqued. The husband was the weak link of all the actors, struggling to convey any sense of emotion during the moments in which his character should be most frustrated or annoyed.
This film impressed me primarily because I was expecting nothing from it. I was expecting to have to latch on to some silver lining and hope it would be enough to salvage an otherwise bland tale. But instead I received a rather powerful and unsettling horror flick that left a haunting impression on my mind for a time afterwards.