Voyeurism of a most extreme sort was the subject of Victor Zarkoff’s “13 Cameras,” a low-budget thriller that grew increasingly implausible as it progressed but was nonetheless tightly constructed and genuinely creepy. The sequel expands things by adding not only another camera but needless subplots, and the tightness evaporates. “14 Cameras” becomes a flat, pointless bore, marked by poor writing and slipshod construction, as well as flat directing and amateurish acting.
In “13 Cameras,” the villain, creepy landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault), simply spied on his tenants until fatally intervening in their troubled lives. It was a slim story, but for the most part was crisply staged and executed. This time around, Gerald is more of an entrepreneur who rents out a baker’s dozen of camera-equipped homes, footage from which he streams out to paying customers on the dark web.
He still, however, has his own perverted interests. He keeps Claire (Brianne Moncrief), the pregnant housewife from the first movie, imprisoned in an underground chamber, and when one of his renters, Sarah (Chelsea Edmundson), almost catches him rambling about in her house, he tosses her in as well, though he never seems to have contact with the women except for occasional trips to bathe them tenderly. In one plot thread, Sarah attempts to escape despite Claire’s warnings not to—good advice, as it turns out.
In any event, after a pointless prologue involving a couple (Zach Dulin and Kodi Saint Angelo) who simply banter for awhile before disappearing in their car, the focus shifts to a new bunch of renters: parents Arthur (Hank Rogerson) and Lori (Lora Martinez-Cunningham), their daughter Molly (Brytnee Ratledge) and her horny younger brother Kyle (John-Paul Howard), who has the hots for Molly’s friend Danielle (Amber Midthunder), their guest. Much of the movie is given over to desultory footage of them, enlivened only when one of Gerald’s customers decides to pay the girls an unwelcome visit and Gerald intervenes to protect them.
By this time, however, Junior (Gavin White), a teen who lives with Gerald (and may be the son Claire never knew), investigates what his “guardian” has been up to and decides to save Claire, and the family will become engaged as well. But though Gerald’s flow of footage will halt, a coda is added to suggest there might be life in the old goat yet and the hiatus in his work output could be temporary.
Though Zarkoff wrote the script for this sequel to his surprise little succès d’estime, he passed directing duties along to producers Seth Fuller and Scott Hussion, who exhibit little flair for structure or pacing and are unable to draw anything but the most elementary performances from the cast, although it must be admitted that Archambault remains a menacing presence. Fuller also served as cinematographer, and shows little aptitude in that capacity either. Editor Zach Lee gives the picture no perceptible rhythm, failing to inject any excitement into what is pretty flaccid footage.
For discerning genre fans “13 Cameras” was a surprisingly effective little thriller about a twisted guy and his hapless victims. This time around, the haplessness is to be found in the filmmakers. “14 Cameras” is a thoroughly unnecessary and disappointing sequel.