Arrow in the Head reviews 15 Cameras, a follow-up to 13 and 14 Cameras that also works as a standalone thriller
PLOT: When married couple Cam and Sky move into a property formerly owned by the voyeuristic, homicidal slumlord from the previous films, Cam discovers that the place is still equipped with cameras and monitoring equipment. He begins to follow in the slumlord’s creepy footsteps… while also starting to fear that the slumlord is still lurking around.
REVIEW: In the 2015 film 13 Cameras, writer/director Victor Zarcoff and actor Neville Archambault introduced viewers to one of the most repugnant characters ever put on the screen: slack-jawed, perverted, homicidal slumlord Gerald. That film had one hell of a downer ending, so thankfully it received a sequel three years later – 14 Cameras, with Archambault reprising the role of Gerald and Zarcoff writing the screenplay for Scott Hussion and Seth Fuller to direct. Again, the door was left wide open for a sequel, with Gerald still up to his woman-capturing ways. So it’s good that, five years later, 15 Cameras (watch it HERE) has finally come along to wrap up the trilogy. But this final chapter comes with a sad edge to it: in the years since 14 Cameras, Archambault unexpectedly passed away. Zarcoff is an executive producer on 15 Cameras, but here it was left to writer PJ McCabe (who played one of Gerald’s victims in 13 Cameras) and director Danny Madden to wrap up Gerald’s story without Archambault… and they did it in a clever way.
15 Cameras picks up some years down the line from the events of the previous films, by which time the crimes depicted in those films have become the subject of a streaming docu-series called The Slumlord Tapes. That’s definitely something that would happen in the times we’re living in, and the title is a nice nod to the fact that the working title for 13 Cameras was Slumlord. The docu-series is filled with footage from the cameras Gerald had placed around his rental properties – and when we see this footage, it’s a mix of stock footage from the previous films, allowing Archambault to appear in the movie posthumously, and newly filmed scenes where the role of Gerald (credited in this one as Slumlord) is filled by James Babson. It’s impossible to exactly replicate the look and movements Archambault brought to the role, as he was a very unique individual, but Babson is a fine replacement.
The Slumlord Tapes has become an obsession for a young woman named Sky (Angela Wong Carbone), who has just moved into one of the slumlord’s former properties with her husband Cam (Will Madden). The place is a nice duplex that doesn’t seem to have any cameras installed in it, and the couple feels relatively safe because the authorities and the docu-series claim Gerald was killed in a fire pretty much right after the end credits started rolling on 14 Cameras. Soon after Sky and Cam get settled in, Sky’s sister Carolyn (Hilty Bowen) shows up, needing a place to stay during a break-up. When Carolyn goes to take a shower, Cam goes downstairs to make sure the hot water heater is working properly… and discovers the slumlord had built a hidden room beside the hot water heater where he could monitor the cameras that are indeed placed in various locations throughout the duplex. Including in the shower his sister-in-law is using.
Much of 15 Cameras’ 89 minute running time centers on Cam as he follows in Gerald’s perverted footsteps: attempting to creep on his sister-in-law, watching footage of himself having sex with his wife, convincing Sky they should rent out the other half of the duplex… not telling her about the cameras or the fact that he intends to spy on their tenants. The people he chooses to rent to: college girls Wren (Shirley Chen) and Amber (Hannah McKechnie). He’s obsessed with watching these girls. He has inappropriate interactions with them. We wonder how far he’s going to go down the slumlord path… And while all of this is going on, Cam and Sky both begin to suspect the slumlord might actually be alive.
Since this movie doesn’t focus on Gerald or what he’s doing to people, and since the story is years removed from what happened in 13 and 14 Cameras, it will be accessible to viewers who haven’t seen the previous films. In fact, without the disgusting things Gerald would do, this might be the most accessible film in the series. It could easily be watched as a standalone film. But if you have been following the slumlord films as closely as Sky follows The Slumlord Tapes, you’ll find that it’s a respectful follow-up (for a Slumlord Tapes interview, Brianne Moncrief even reprises the role of Claire, the character she played in the previous films) and a satisfying conclusion to the story. It’s a shame Archambault wasn’t able to be in it, but I’m glad this entry was added to the franchise. Gerald may not have much screen time, but he’s still a major presence in the film, with Sky becoming obsessed with his story while Cam copies his behavior.
Will Madden does a great job playing the increasingly sleazy and absurd Cam, and Angela Wong Carbone puts in a strong heroine performance as Sky, who has to deal with her husband’s weirdness while trying to get to the bottom of what really happened to the slumlord.
If you’re a 13 and/or 14 Cameras fan, 15 Cameras provides a welcome wrap-up to the trilogy. If you’re not familiar with the other movies, this one can still work on its own as a solid voyeurism thriller. I recommend checking it out.
Gravitas Ventures is giving 15 Cameras a VOD release this Friday, October 13th. The film will also be showing theatrically in Los Angeles.