The Internet can be a wonderful tool for discovery, for educational and entertainment needs. It’s also the place to go for your cheap thrills and you would be forgiven to think Daniel Goldhaber, Isa Mazzei‘s Cam is delivering some.
Netflix’s Original‘s latest film is set in the world of webcam porn. We meet Alice (Madeline Brewer) ambitious camgirl who is known to her online fans as Lola. One day she wakes up to discover she has been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself.
As Alice struggles to take control of the situation, her replica starts to push the boundaries of her internet identity. Taking that identity to places Alice dared to go or go on camera in a way to effect and ruin her life off camera.
As she attempts to regain what she’s lost, She slowly drawn back to her show and the mysterious person who took over her place.
Writer Isa Mazzei was a former camgirl herself, which gives Cam a seal of authenticity. That helped the director build the website we see in the film whilst letting him be in contact with the actors playing the girls. It let them bring more realism to the fold, heightened the tension, as well as the competition for the girls as the name of the game, is popularity.
From the opening minutes of Cam, we see Alice stoop to some dark places with a ‘fake suicide’. Attempting to block a ‘fake user’ who wanted to see ‘bleed’. It’s all for popularity to climb up the site’s chart as Alice targets the other girls. She even goes as far as sharing a cam session with another girl eventually her doppelganger does it for her.
Whilst she coerces her viewers/regulars to ‘tip her’ with bitcoin/tokens, she still can’t reach the top of the charts. That’s until the replica takes over.
Cam does well to show off the seedier side of the internet. Men (and some women) like to hide behind their keyboards, throwing money and tokens at the girls for their sexual kicks. If they had a chance of a sexual encounter face to face with one of the girls they would run a mile. If anything the film is a character study with a glimpse into what motivates and drives someone. How much of your dignity are you willing to give up?
Cam doesn’t deliver any solutions to Alice’s problems. It’s an existential tale if anything. Madeline Brewer does really well to carry the film from start to finish as shes virtually in every scene. An optimistic girl who wants to do better for herself whilst trying to keep her online self and real-life self separate. She knows her loved ones would disapprove.
The film is a cautionary tale not just for those in the porn industry but those who spend their time living on social media trying to more popular. Forgetting online and offline are two different worlds that should never be crossed. Cam sadly doesn’t really live up to exactly what they promised, however its still unsettling, sinister, and plenty of tension. This plays more like an episode of Black Mirror or Twilight Zone that a straight horror.
A tale that reminds you of the lyrics of the old classic Orange Juice song. ‘Rip it up and start again’, if you know technology its a wise move, though those who want to damage you will find a way. A solid debut, nonetheless.
Paul Devine | ★★★
Thriller, Horror | USA, 2018 | 16 | Netflix Originals | Dir. Daniel Goldhaber | Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters
Originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 27th December 2018