HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 14 CAMERAS (2018)

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14 CAMERAS (2018)

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Sequel to 13 Cameras is again written by Victor Zarcoff, though directing chores have been handed off to Seth Fuller and Scott Hussion. Follow-up takes place years later with creepy landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) continuing his stalker ways and filling his properties with hidden cameras, watching the occupants and occasionally kidnapping female ones that suit his fancy. He’s upped his game and now streams the footage on the web and charges other creeps to watch it. He still has Claire (Brianne Moncrief) captive and raises her young son “Jr.” (Gavin White) as his own. His current targets are a vacationing family, with their daughter, pretty college student Molly (Brytnee Ratledge) and her hot, flirty friend Danielle (Amber Midthunder) as the objects of his gross attention. Things get complicated when his footage attracts like-minded individuals and he now has competition for making Danielle one of his collection.

New directors, Fuller and Hussion, keep this second installment creepy, and sometimes violent, as the scenario is opened up a bit to focus on not only Gerald’s disturbing habits, but having Claire and her son in captivity. Claire is almost used to her life in what looks like a bomb shelter dug into the desert floor and tries to convince new roommates, like athletic and pretty Sarah (Chelsea Edmundson), that escape attempts are not a good idea…and to a degree they are not. Pervert Gerald has set his sights on pretty, flirtatious Danielle and his intrusions into the house and in her belongings conveniently get blamed on Molly’s teen brother Kyle (John-Paul Howard). It’s creepy and very unsettling to follow mouth-breather Gerald as he watches the girls shower and romp around in bikini’s and then sell the footage…and a pair of Danielle’s panties…to his creepy subscribers. Things start to fall apart for the deranged landlord when “Jr.” starts to get curious about his “dad’s” activities and one of Gerald’s subscribers starts a bidding war for Danielle. It’s very disturbing to watch unfold and even though it shares some of the first film’s flaws…like gimp-legged Gerald getting out of occupied houses unseen…it has the viewer squirming in their seat enough to work. The idea of being watched in the privacy of your own home and having that privacy invaded is a concept that still hasn’t warn out it’s effectiveness. Add to that, the idea of having your most private moments sold to deviates on the dark web is equally as chilling. This flick makes good use of both scenarios.

Once again Neville Archambault paints a disturbing individual as the vile Gerald. He is a pervert and a deviate and has no moral compass whatsoever. His activities make your skin crawl and feel sympathy for those under the watchful eye of his hidden cameras, especially those who find themselves bound and gagged in the back of his truck. In this installment he even finds a way to make money off his sick behavior from like-minded creeps…and apparently, there are a lot of them. Brianne Moncrief is solid as the captive Claire. She’s pretty much given up all hope of escape and is accepting of her life in captivity, though when it comes to reuniting with the son she barely knows, it ignites a bit of fight in her. Amber Midthunder is very likable as the lively and playful Danielle. She is the type of girl that gets attention, though the wrongest kind here. The cast portraying family members are all fine in support with Brytnee Ratledge as Molly, John-Paul Howard as Molly’s high school student brother Kyle, Lora Martinez-Cunningham (Sicario, Fender Bender) as their hot mom Lori and Hank Rogerson as their dad Arthur. Whether it was intentional or not, it made the older and pervy Gerald even creepier that he ignores sexy mom Lori and goes after co-ed Danielle, who’s still a teenager. Last, but not least, Chelsea Edmundson is effective as the strong-willed captive Sarah and Gavin White, equally so, as “Jr” who is becoming quite the nosy young man.

Sequel adds up to pretty much an equal as while it shared some of 13 Camera’s flaws, it was also very disturbing and unsettling. Gerald is proving to be a very effective and creepy character in his second outing and Neville Archambault really makes him realistic and scary. The flick has a good cast and the makers took the first movie’s concept and opened it up a bit with Gerald now taking his perversions to the dark web and profiting on them from others of his ilk. An effective second film in this franchise and directed well by Hussion and Fuller.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 13 CAMERAS (2015)

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13 CAMERAS (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Written and directed by Victor Zarcoff, this is a creepy little thriller about an invasion of privacy and then a disturbing escalation that includes kidnapping and murder. The story finds a pregnant Claire (Brianne Moncrief) and her husband Ryan (PJ McCabe) moving into a house owned by the creepy Gerald (Neville Archambault). Unknown to the young couple, Gerald has installed cameras all over their apartment and in places where they are most vulnerable…did he really need to put one IN the toilet, too? He watches them constantly and Claire especially, is very unnerved around him…and she should be. When Gerald witnesses Ryan having an affair with his beautiful assistant Hannah (Sarah Baldwin), he prepares the apartment’s “owners closet” for an insidious purpose and now Ryan, his wife and his lover are in for a far more horrible nightmare than they could ever imagine.

Despite being about hidden cameras, thankfully director Zarcoff chose NOT to make this yet another found footage movie and it works better that way. He crafts a disturbing and creepy flick and we see a young couple’s privacy violated in the worst ways as Gerald watches then constantly and in their most private moments. If his voyeurism isn’t unsettling enough, we get a sick individual who resorts to kidnapping and even murder to sate his deranged needs. Watching him enter the house while Claire showers is bad enough, but he takes advantage of the couple’s marital problems to set up an abduction of the beautiful Hannah with the same intentions for Claire. All the more disturbing as she is pregnant. Zarcoff builds a chilling atmosphere as we watch Gerald invade this couple’s lives in more ways than just as a peeping Tom and there is some nice tension especially in the last act when Gerald unravels his end game for the couple and there is a cat and mouse pursuit in and around the house. The film isn’t perfect. Some of the things Gerald gets away with are a bit of a stretch, such as getting from his home to theirs quick enough to ‘fix’ things that might get him discovered…sometimes while someone is there. It’s also hard to accept that the owner’s closet is that sound proof that the couple don’t realize Hannah is being held captive inside their very home. The couple also have a dog that appears and disappears when convenient. It’s hard to believe that even with winning the animal over with treats, that it would quietly snooze when Gerald gets violent against Ryan and Claire. During the final confrontation the dog is completely absent. That much excitement would have a dog going nuts. The last scene also teeters between creepy and silly, depending on how far you are willing to go with this. Some plot holes, yes…but the creepy good outweigh the bad.

Neville Archambault is one of the reasons this works so well, despite those plot holes. He exudes creepiness in both his sloth-like appearance and in his mannerisms and obviously, his actions. He provides a disturbing villain and that goes a long way with making this thriller work as he makes us very uneasy. Brianne Moncrief is good as Claire. We get a likable young woman who is having some problems in her marriage and we feel horrified for her when she is watched, especially when alone. PJ McCabe is fine as Ryan. We start out liking him, but as we realize he is cheating on his wife with the curvaceous Hanna, our opinion changes appropriately and McCabe makes it work. Sarah Baldwin is also good as Hannah. The character may be selfish, but she is not portrayed as a bimbo and we do feel for her when she catches Gerald’s attention in the worst way. A good cast that make this little thriller click.

Despite some obvious plot holes, this little thriller still remained effective enough to get the job done. It gave us a really creepy…and dangerous…bad guy and a likable young couple as his prey. There was a lot to get creeped out about and some unsettling violence when the unhinged landlord acts on his deranged desires. The ending evoked both chills and some eye-rolling, but may effect viewers differently depending on their willingness to go alone with things. A bit flawed, but overall, an enjoyably unnerving little thriller.

-MonsterZero NJ

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