Cam Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Netflix
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber
Written by Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei
2018, 94 minutes, Not Rated
Released on November 16th, 2018
Madeline Brewer as Alice/Lola
Patch Darragh as Tinker
Melora Walters as Lynne
Devin Druid as Jordan
A Lynchian techno-thriller in which a cam girl’s online show is suddenly stolen by an enigmatic replica of herself, Daniel Goldhaber’s directorial debut is a pertinent cyber horror around online identity loss.
Alice is a normal teenager, toiling with normal insecurities, but with an abnormal secret: she lives a part-time life of vanity and erotica as an up-and-coming cam girl under the show name ‘Lola’. Desperate to constantly improve her ranking among the other site’s girls, she's willing to go to desperate measures to compete for viewers and fans – to the point where she’ll fake her death on screen. She puts on elaborate, themed shows in her flat, rakes in the cash, is taken out for meals by her loyal fans – and hides that all from her mum. But one day, Alice’s account – and her show – is hijacked by someone who looks identical to her, and she must figure out what's going on and how to put herself back in the driver’s seat. All while watching her imitator thrash around in a blow-up pool and make out with other cam girls. Live.
There’s no hiding from Goldhaber’s David Lynch inspiration here, Cam’s existential premise an unwavering mind-meddler full of intrigue and trepidation that determinedly refuses to let up. In tow with its cyber horror siblings, beneath the mystery is the timely tapping-in to the threat of technology; the perils of online activity and the jeopardy and depravity it’s open to. But that doesn’t stop Goldhaber having fun not only with Cam’s bizarre plot but also its presentation.
There's the inherent salaciousness of course, and the creepily menacing premise and shock climaxes are bathed in an edgy luridness as bold as the cam girls’ narcissism; the splashy, seedy pink neon and pulsating techno making for an audiovisual palette that often mimics the disorientating surrealism of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. It unnerves and chills – in a large part due to Alice’s frustrating entrapment being forced upon you by the captivating performance of Madeline Brewer, whose experience in the uncanny from previous leads in Black Mirror and 2018 fantasy-horror Braid has her playing the role with a natural confidence.
Even during moments when Cam's obscurity borders elusiveness (which it does, at times) it's her character's dogged determination and self-reliance to regain control that ultimately flirts with the slight feminist in us all and keeps us rooting until the twisted – yet sweetly satisfying – end. Now that it's done the festival circuit, Cam is a genre film that deserves exposure, which its Netflix distribution should give it. It certainly brings a new meaning to 'Netflix and chill'.