by Glenn Lovell
Victor Zarcoff’s “13 Cameras,” originally known as “Slumlord,” has more p[l]ot holes than a season of “Ice Road Truckers.” But don’t let that keep you from indulging: The low-budget indie about a hulking, peeping Tom landlord and his millennial tenants is the stuff of which sleepless nights are made. It’s perfect Midnight Spooker fodder.
Newlyweds Claire (Brianne Moncrief) and Ryan (PJ McCabe) have to go down as the screen’s most gullible house hunters. For most of us the mere sight of landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) would be an immediate deal-breaker. To say the guy is unsettling would be an understatement. He’s part Quasimodo, part Igor. And if this isn’t enough to have you scoping out the nearest exit, he smells like “spoiled mayonnaise,” to quote Claire, whose olfactory system works overtime (she’s pregnant).
That the couple still rents the place can be seen as a rude comment on the current real estate scene.
What they don’t know is that the property is peppered with fiber-optic surveillance cameras. Study? Yup. Bedroom and shower? But of course. Toilet? Don’t ask.
Watching from his home console, Gerald sees more than he wants to. Turns out the perfect couple isn’t so perfect. Ryan, a baby-faced snake, is having it off with a sexy coworker and soon the landlord begins to feel protective of the wife.
The putty-faced Archambault, who hails from New Zealand, is the creepiest looking villain since Dieter Laser in the “Human Centipede” series. He’s so weird looking, it hurts the movie. Like why would anyone trust this guy, especially when we learn that he has an extra key to the place and the renters’ decide not to change the locks.
As for nosy neighbors who might wonder why Gerald’s van is always parked in the driveway, they’re either clueless or nonexistent.
Is Victor Zarcoff a pseudonym? If it isn’t, it should be. The name’s a mashup of Victor Frankenstein and, from “The Most Dangerous Game,” Count Zaroff.
Regardless, the guy knows horror. When he isn’t bribing the family pooch with bacon burgers, he’s raiding such genre benchmarks as “Psycho” and “Funny Games.”
13 CAMERAS With PJ McCabe, Brianne Moncrief, Neville Archambault. Written, directed by Victor Zarcoff. 97 min. Unrated (would be R for nudity, violence)