13 Cameras

13 Cameras
Photo by D. Tempesta

I’ve said this before, but the thriller/suspense/horror genre is unfamiliar to me. Quite honestly, I am generally just too scared to watch anything related to horror, but 13 Cameras (previously named Slumlord) was closer to suspense/thriller than horror. This is what drew me to it in the first place. Adding that it is a relatively unknown film made me even more curious. Fortunately, I watched this out of nothing more than curiosity. If I had come in with expectations, I fear I would have been disappointed.

I will admit that I was kept in suspense for a long time very effectively. I was terrified of what Gerald was capable of. He was such an enigma to everyone (audience included) that we could make no conclusions about him. I had no idea what he wanted to accomplish. I had no idea what he was going to do to those women. I just didn’t know, and that scared me. In Danse Macabre, Stephen King talks about three levels of terror, the scariest being exactly that, terror. This type of fear is thought to be more refined than the others, horror and gross-out. In my understanding, terror is that sense of impending dread where something is just not right and you know something bad will soon happen. It is the time spent before our fears are realized, before we see the monster. This is exactly how I felt for the majority of the movie, terrified. I knew what was going on was not right, but I didn’t know what bad thing was going to happen. Until the end, Gerald was just a creep, we never saw the monster. Even after capturing Hannah, the monster was not yet fully revealed. This the movie did quite well. However, it undermined itself with its own ending.

Despite a few reasons not to be, I was terrified until the end. But once I watched the ending, I was no longer terrified. Not only that, but I wasn’t even scared, or horrified, or grossed-out. The ending just didn’t fit; it wasn’t believable. Three people (one of them pregnant) went missing for nearly two months, but the first time police were notified was 7 weeks after they went missing by the landlord who killed/kidnapped them! There is just no way. Claire speaks to her mother at least every other day, if not more. There is no question her mother would have been looking into this sooner. The murders that occurred near the end were not quiet. Hannah was killed outside in a pool. Before her death, she screamed rather loudly for nearly 30 seconds. I don’t care what time of night it is, someone would have heard that. The argument could be made that they were isolated because we never really see another house around them. But isolated people don’t need their entire backyard fenced off. Paul’s work friend just disappeared right after telling Paul that he had been having an affair with his assistant. Coincidentally, his pregnant wife and mistress went missing at the same time. What’s more is that Paul’s wife is friends with Claire. That is at least four red flags just between the two of them. If I could buy into the ending a bit more, it would have been a great and dreadful ending. But as it stands, it just does not work.

There are various plot holes throughout the film that follow this pattern. Anyone who has ever moved knows that the first thing you do in a new home is open every door and explore every area that exists to be explored. But not Ryan and Claire! Nope. Ryan is too busy cheating on his pregnant wife and Claire is too preoccupied with rubbing her pregnant belly for either of them to care about the “owner’s closet”. They open it once well after they move in, get creeped out, and never open it again (until Hannah). They never even notice when Gerald puts an entirely new lock on the door. Not a different lock. A new one. As in it didn’t exist before, but now it does. They each walk past this door every day. Claire stays at home every day. One of them would have noticed this. We should also ask why Gerald keeps Hannah in the house, and not somewhere else. That seems like risky hostage management, but he is much creepier than me. He may know best. Even the dog would have been enough to arouse my suspicion. I don’t know about other people, but I know all of my dog’s habits. If she starts acting differently, I know there is a reason. If she repeatedly throws up strange foods we know we didn’t give to her, I’m going to be suspicious. Much like Baron, my dog is also dissatisfied with anyone who walks through our front door, even me if I catch her off-guard. If she inexplicably doesn’t bark at someone she has (to my knowledge) never seen before, I am going to assume that person is a literal angel or something is awry. Again, the movie did a great job of terrifying me for over an hour. If the ending had been real enough, I may have remained terrified or become horrified. Unfortunately, with the ending being as unbelievable as it was, I then saw the other plot holes of the film for what they were.

My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Did you find this film to be successful? Or were you just as bothered by the plot holes? What could have made it better? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!

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