Now Gerald (James Babson) is known as “The Slumlord,” an urban legend, and one of his duplex houses has been heedlessly snapped up—and at a steep discount—by true crime obsessive Sky (Angela Wong Carbone) and her squeamish boyfriend Cam (Will Madden). You might think that Madden’s thuddingly literal character name bodes well for an (intentionally) funny horror movie about the revealing effect of technology on paranoid, weak-willed young people. You would be totally wrong, perhaps in surprising ways.
For starters, “15 Cameras” lacks the specificity to be either good as satire or an atmospheric mood piece. Both Sky and Cam behave in ways that suggest their creators can’t stand them, or really, can’t stand what they vaguely represent. That palpable disdain jumps out in an early scene where see Sky and Cam make out while watching an inexpertly parodied true-crime series called “The Slumlord Tapes,” which features an arch voiceover narration that might have made more sense in an amateurish YouTube video. (ex: “Her boyfriend Marc, deceased, in the next room…”)
Cam objects to how distracted Sky apparently is, and while this could be the start of a genuinely hilarious and well-observed scene, it’s really an excuse to (lightly) incriminate Sky, who’s otherwise barely a supporting character in “15 Cameras.” Because when Cam balks about Sky’s inattention, she reflexively pouts, “That’s a little unfair,” with hard stresses on “little” and “fair.” Using this take/line reading in an establishing scene is the worst kind of revealing. Madden is not exempt from this sort of broad-brush caricaturing either, like when he acknowledges his new home’s shady past by shrugging, “That’s how you get a place for half the market value,” without a sheepish smile or a trace of irony.