Saturday 8 December 2018

Dark Film Review: CAM

Dark Film Review: CAM

Review by Casey Douglass


Personal identity has become a far more complicated thing in the age of the Internet. Not only do we have the usual ideas about who we are, but now we can measure our “worthiness” by the numbers we can generate online. Fun to think about, not so fun if we become defined by it all. CAM makes use of this idea, and spins an interesting tale from it.

CAMCAM is an adult-rated horror thriller that follows the attempts of Lola, a reasonably high-ranking
cam-girl, to increase her Rank on the website that she cams for. It begins with her talking to her viewers, reacting to their crude jokes and suggestions and generally trying to charm them into tipping/bidding coins to get her to do things. Being the Internet, it doesn’t take long for the suggestions to take a turn to the dark side. This pales in comparison however, to when she later finds out that she appears to have a double, one who has taken control of her account and is meddling in her life.

This doppelgänger aspect is what I found most intriguing and enjoyable about CAM. The idea that another “me” could break away and be doing the stuff I do online, but in a more extreme way, is certainly an interesting proposition. As far as the film is concerned, it takes quite awhile for the viewer (and Lola) to find out the nature of what is going on, beyond the “Holy shit that’s me!” element. There’s paranoia about it being a competing cam-girl, or one of her fans, or even the cam site streaming old shows again.

CAMWe are kept guessing about the double for what felt like just over half the film's length. The “horror” aspect emerged after Lola’s investigations turned up a surprising thing about another cam-girl. It wasn’t much later that the nature of the doppelgänger was revealed. I quite liked the form it took, and could get on board with how Lola ultimately dealt with things. Even the very end, after things settled a little, proved a surprise as to how she decided to go about life in the aftermath.

CAM was written by Isa Mazzei, a former cam-girl herself, which was something that I had no idea about before writing this review. I think that’s why the film seemed to have interesting terms and details, such as the scenes where Lola talks about finding her “whale” (a wealthy person who spends lots on online currencies for in-app purchases) and also the way that the cam-girls compete with each other. The scene where Lola is watching her biggest rival, trying to learn tips, is a small thing, but in a less thoughtful film, probably wouldn’t have even featured. You also feel for Lola, especially as he secret life clashes with her friends and family against her will.

CAMCAM is sexual but not overly so. The words are the most explicit, and as far as flesh, flashes of breasts and implied nakedness/erotic deeds are about as risqué as things get. There is some bloody gore, but even here, that is quite minimal, and in the context of the narrative, not as it seems. The graphical way that the message room works on-screen is realised very well, the frenzy of messages paced fairly and readable in a comfortable way. The only thing that made me laugh a little was the very specific animated gifs people sent in almost instant response to what was happening with Lola.

If you have Netflix, check it CAM out, I think it's well worth a watch.

Film Title: CAM
Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters
Directed by: Daniel Goldhaber
Written by: Isa Mazzei
Produced by: Netflix
Released: 2018