Saturday, November 3, 2018

Movie Review: "Cam" (2018)

Director: Daniel Goldhaber
Year: 2018
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

A cam girl who is trying to make her way into the top rankings on the website where she has her shows gets her account jacked by a doppelganger. Now, she must find a way to get her channel back at all costs.

Cam 2018 movie still Madeline Brewer
"I love being watched." (Image Source)
Trying to come up with the most horrifying things that could happen in our modern technological age might be a challenge for filmmakers, but the mere thought of having your account hacked and seeing someone pretending to be you online has to rank pretty high on that list. "Cam" is the feature film directorial debut of Daniel Goldhaber, who also helped write the film along with fellow first-time screenwriters Isabelle Link-Levy and Isa Mazzei, a former cam-girl herself. The story focuses on a cam-girl named Alice (Madeline Brewer), who goes by the screenname Lola_Lola on the website where she hosts her live-streaming shows. Alice has been struggling to get into the top 50 best channels on that website for quite some time, but still has decent success with what she does. After doing a particularly risque show with another woman, Alice finally breaks into the top 50. The following day, her account gets hacked, and a doppelganger appears on her channel, doing her show in her place while stealing her viewers and the tips that come with it. When most of her attempts to contact technical support fail, Alice must think of a plan on her own to get her page back and stop the online impersonator who hijacked her money, fame, and glory.
Cam 2018 movie still Madeline Brewer
"I'm this close to breaking top 50. I can taste it." (Image Source)
"Cam" is a sexually charged psychological horror/thriller with a touch of mystery thrown in for good measure. Being that this film centers on a cam-girl on a pornographic website, one must expect a lot of nudity and sexually explicit dialogue and situations, but it is much more than that. It mixes violence into some of the sexual situations for horror purposes, which may be a hard line for some viewers and put them off of this project immediately. At its core, "Cam" gives an all-too-relevant commentary on our modern society and shows how easy it is to be impersonated online. It also explores the helplessness we feel when we are unable to do anything about it. Where this movie thrives, however, is its points on human ambition and our quest for validation, as well as arbitrary social media rankings and algorithms that lead people to push the envelope and put them in compromising positions that violate their own personal rules and morals (Logan Paul suicide forest, anyone?). This screenplay also points out how despite our "wokeness" when it comes to feminism, there is still a massive stigma associated with sex workers and shows how they are often treated poorly by those outside of 'that world.' The women in this film are looked down upon by others and are shamed and judged harshly for their choices, not just strangers, but by their families, friends, and local law enforcement of officers (in an especially uncomfortable but all too realistic scene at Alice's home).

Madeline Brewer sells the frustration and desperation of her character very well as she varies between being a nervous wreck, being utterly ashamed, being super confident, and being sexually empowered with relative ease. The look of the film is also very stylish, clad in hyper pink neon colors and frills to the nines. As Alice films her life away as Lola_Lola to the adoring eyes of her chatroom, the text box comes to life with explicit comments that often push the envelope or egg her on. .gifs and stickers of little smiley faces jacking off and making "O" faces are a-plenty, and there are always perverse and borderline dangerous requests from those who may be seeking more harm than pleasure. As far as critiques go, there do seem to be some superfluous characters that serve little purpose overall. The narrative could have been a little tighter and more fully realized. We were left with a couple of lingering questions that could have been expressly mentioned, but the moments of tension and terror far outweigh the lack of clarity.
Cam 2018 movie still Madeline Brewer
"On that show, you're a different person." (Image Source)
"Cam" is a pretty engaging mystery thriller that will likely have its niche audience. While it has an interesting commentary on sex workers and our current technological culture, we could have used a little more flash towards the end.

**We were allowed to screen this movie as part of our coverage for the Denver Film Festival. To get tickets to see this film, please visit their website!**

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.0/10
RT Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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