My man man, pots and pans, Spencer Mitchell is back, this time with a review of a very cool flick called 13 Cameras. I haven’t seen it myself, but after reading his review, I’m going straight to Amazon this afternoon. There’s great horror out there. Sometimes, you just need to rely on someone’s recommendation to point you in the right direction! And this particular movie opens up a whole can of worms about the prevalence of cameras in today’s society and what that means for us.
Take it away Spencer…
13 Cameras: A Video Surveillance Horror Story
While ugly, failing appliances and bug infestations may be at the top of the list of a renter’s worst fears, being spied on by creepy landlords is also another concern. No one wants to be unknowingly watched and recorded, but the movie 13 Cameras takes it a step further. If nothing else, this film shows that the technology so many depend on to protect their homes, property, and person can easily be used against them.
As 13 Cameras opens, Gerald, played by Neville Archambault, is seen purchasing a load of little cameras and installing them in a house. In come newlyweds Ryan and Claire, played by PJ McCabe and Brianne Moncrief, who are expecting their first baby and looking for a new place to rent. Claire picks up on Gerald’s unsettling vibes right away, but since the house is perfectly suited for their growing family, the couple signs a lease and seals their fate.
During the film, Claire and Ryan do the normal things that all married couples do within their homes: argue, have sex, and plan their futures. The problem is most people don’t have a landlord watching their every movement on camera. Then comes the twist: Ryan is having an affair with his assistant Hannah, played by Sarah Baldwin. It gets to the point where Ryan’s indiscretion is not only threatening his marriage with Claire, but Gerald’s favorite pastime as well. And you know Gerald’s not having that. As the tension between Ryan and Claire becomes more intense, Gerald steps beyond watching them on camera and physically invades their lives.
Archambault’s performance as Gerald is excellent and flawlessly gives the audience sweaty-crazy-landlord realness. He doesn’t say much throughout the film, but his very presence is unnerving. Once the audience sees he’s not some quivering lump but a very muscular man beneath his sweat-stained shirt, you get a sense that Claire and Ryan are in serious danger. As for the ending of 13 Cameras, let’s just say that it is as disturbing as the rest of the film.
Theatrical drama aside, there are some real life problems with video surveillance. It’s commonly abused and can easily put sensitive information and footage into the wrong hands. Technology simply hasn’t reached the point of being fool-proof, and that era may never come at all. That said, home security systems can provide some major benefits, are effective at warding off would-be intruders, and there are ways to safeguard them, according to many resources.
One of the biggest vulnerabilities with most home security systems is they’re not encrypted, which makes it much easier for hackers, stalkers, and even pranksters to spy on you and invade your privacy. Choose a system that uses encryption and is tamper resistant. Another way to stop hackers is by properly securing your home’s router if your security system relies on WiFi. Change the default password and be sure your router’s firmware is current. To very easily determine whether unauthorized users are interfering with your security system, regularly scan the IP history of your camera logs.
The problems presented by unlawful, intrusive surveillance all seem like infrequent worse case scenarios, but cameras are hacked into more than people realize. Because it touches on real life issues that people have encountered with surveillance gone wrong in a terrifying way, 13 Cameras is more of a horror movie than a suspenseful thriller. Take a lesson from Claire and Ryan: to avoid a safety and privacy catastrophe, you have to be careful when it comes to having cameras within your home.
I’ve been a fan of Rob Zombie ever since I heard Thunder Kiss ’65 back in the grunge days of 1992. Hell, when my girls were born, I used to rock them to sleep to White Zombie. And believe it or not, they fell asleep like little angels while he channeled Blade Runner and chanted he was More Human Than Human.
When he made his directorial debut with House of 1000 Corpses, I was the first in line. I knew the backstory in getting that movie made (Hollywood nightmare), and even though it was choppy and strange, I dug it. When he unleashed The Devil’s Rejects on the world, I knew he had arrived. That was one sick, twisted flick. And I still attest that his hillbilly horror take on the Halloween movies would be appreciated even more if they weren’t remakes of a legendary franchise.
When I first heard about The Lords of Salem, I jumped out of my skin, itching to plug myself into Zombie’s distorted view on witches in Salem. It stars, of course, his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, as a Salem DJ called Heidi who shares the airwaves with Dawn of the Dead’s own Ken Foree and Jeff Daniel Phillips (who could double for Rob Zombie). One of the things I love most about Zombie is his knowledge of the horror and 70’s exploitation genres and devotion to the stars who helped build them. This time around, he employs Dee Wallace (The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes), Judy Geeson (It Happened One Night) and Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as a trio of sisters with something nefarious on their minds. It also stars Meg Foster as a beyond filthy, evil witch from centuries past. I met her last year at a horror con and thought she was the sweetest person on earth. I couldn’t believe what I saw on the screen was the same woman!
Here’s the premise : A mysterious vinyl album shows up at the radio station one night. When it’s played on the air, various women around Salem become entranced, having visions of pornographic witchly ceremonies in the 1600s. There’s a strong tie between Heidi and the man responsible for the Salem With Trials and the girl is about to go on an acid trip through hell to find out what it all means.
I came ouf of The Lords of Salem with my head spinning. The imagery here is graphic high-strangeness, and at times, unsettling. It has a very 70’s B movie pastiche and will leave you feeling like you just double-downed on acid.
At times, the narrative felt a little disjointed and Sheri Moon’s performance, finally not playing a murderous psychotic or stripper, is a little better than I thought it would be, but not strong enough to give her character the gravitas it needed. It’s not a scary movie, per se, but it does provide enough fuel for many nightmares to come. If a Rob Zombie song could weave itself to life, this is exactly what it would look and sound like.
I think most people are going to have a hard time wrapping their heads around this one. It’s great for me, but too odd for normal folk. And that’s just fine. The day Rob Zombie makes a movie for the masses, ala crap like Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer, I’m catching the next comet to the far reaches of space. Humanity will have lost all meaning for me.
You need to go into it not expecting it to be a major feature cranked out by the Hollywood hit – I mean schlock – machine. Picture yourself in the back of a car at a dirty drive-in and enjoy.
Yesterday was a very busy day here on the Ponderosa. My Monster Bud, Jack Campisi, came over so we could film a boatload of Monster Men podcasts. We made it through 7 before fatigue and too much beer consumption wores us down, where we then sat on our asses for the rest of the night watching two movies (the sad Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie and the tense, Aussie shark drama, The Reef). Then it is was on to random episodes of Tosh.0 (always hilarious and politically incorrect), Monster Quest, and a few more beers.
Despite all that, Jack did manage to get up early and finish the edits for a quickie rant we did on the new Underworld flick, and the franchise in general. Just click on the Monster Men logo below to see what we think. If you like it or hate it, please forward it so we can get the villagers good and rankled. It’s been a while since I saw a procession of torches coming up the lane.
Underwhelmed by Underworld