Infidelity and voyeurism are cold bedfellows in 13 Cameras, a would-be thriller taking a stab at the post-privacy zeitgeist.
After some onscreen statistics about the rise of unseen surveillance cameras give the impression that we’re actually about to watch a documentary, writer-director Victor Zarcoff introduces us to newlyweds Ryan and Claire as they survey their new house in Los Angeles. Per the title, that dream home is outfitted with an array of hidden cameras by their off-putting landlord, an all-seeing grotesque whose motivations are never so much as hinted at.
The filmmakers lazily rely on that cipher’s physical appearance — hair that looks like it’s been singed off, guttural voice, thousand-yard stare of a PTSD-afflicted zombie — to signify his malice. This one-dimensional characterization will likely elicit more eye-rolls than scares, like Jason Voorhees without the hockey mask or machete.
Ryan, meanwhile, is a philandering tool whose impatience with his pregnant wife might have you counting down the minutes until 13 Cameras turns into a slasher film, preferably with him as the first victim; when it finally goes down that path, however, the thrills never follow. In a conceit that could actually be exploited more, the action is sometimes seen through the lens of those hidden cameras, low-grade and grimy in a way that befits the nasty material.
Mild schadenfreude aside, however, the film inspires almost no feeling at all — even the Friday the 13th movies bother giving the bad guy a backstory.
Directed by Victor Zarcoff
Gravitas Ventures/Broadway Releasing
Opens April 15, Village East Cinema