A creepy landlord puts up several surveillance cameras in a house before renting it to a married couple who are expecting a baby. The newlyweds have some issues to deal with when the husband start cheating on her, but the real problems arise when the landlord comes into their house when they're away - and has plans for something evil.
Growing up I always thought that a good ghost story was the scariest thing imaginable in a movie. Slow moving ghosts, creepy things in the mirror, transparent figures in hallways, the usual things that go bump in the night. As I grow older I find myself more and more scared by horror movies that are grounded in reality. Exaggerated as some may be, movies like "Eden Lake" and "Ils" have lasting effects above most horror movies. "Slumlord" is the closest I have came to such intensity this year. It's a small movie that played Fantasia International Film Festival, and which I believe will make a name for itself before too long.
"Slumlord" starts with an odd looking landlord looking for surveillance equipment. He buys the most discreet kind of cameras and begins to rig a house with them - before renting it out to a young newlywed couple who are expecting a baby. As Ryan starts cheating on Claire with his assistant Hannah, the marriage begins to crumble. Meanwhile, the landlord becomes more and more obsessed with watching them and goes into their house when they are away. Behind a locked door is a staircase down to a basement that the couple have not seen. A place that only the landlord can get into.
From the very first shot, intensity is brewing in "Slumlord". It's the face of Neville Archambault as the landlord. People have been talking about Laurence R. Harvey's character in "The Human Centipede 2" as being a disturbing character, but his character always felt like a parody of the real creepy characters: the kind of character that Neville Archambault portrays to perfection in "Slumlord". Neville Archambault's performance as Gerald the landlord is masterful. It's the subtle things that always keep you on the edge. We don't know what his plans are, or how far he wants to go. Whether he is "just" a strange pervert or a complete psychopath is hard to tell, and in that lies the most disturbing aspect.
What sets "Slumlord" apart from many similar horror movies is that beyond the voyeuristic horror plot, is a complete drama movie that actually could have survived on its own merits. Sure, it would have been a bit thin, but I have seen worse cases. The fact that the couple's many problems are a big focus for the majority of the movie makes any scene involving the surveillance cameras and the landlord that much more effective.
I can't really say much bad about "Slumlord" at all. There's a predictability that comes with the premise but that's fine - it nails everything else about it so well. At certain times the dialogue felt stilted, but in no way did that lessen the impact.
"Slumlord" is really well crafted. It's somewhere between "Sleep Tight" and "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer". Thanks to a few darkly funny moments it helped keeping the movie from being too disturbing. Despite that, it's exceptionally intense. Its voyeuristic plot fits perfectly with where we are as a society today, but obviously a bit more perverted. If you, like me, find horror movies with real villains to be effective then give this a shot.