Film Review: Cam
Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam is a nervy thriller. The taut atmosphere is only let down by a slightly disappointing finale.
Alice is a cam girl, putting on shows as her alter ego Lola for a website that ranks girls according to their popularity with viewers. When she finds her channel stolen by a doppelgänger, she struggle to figure out what is happening…
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei (based on a story by Goldhaber, Mazzei, and Isabelle Link-Levy) Cam is a horror thriller with quite a hook. The film walks the tightrope of the fantastic with its premise. It is unclear whether there is a rational explanation for what the protagonist is experiencing, or whether it crosses the boundaries into the realm of the supernatural.
From the very beginning, the world in which Alice inhabits is nervy. The anonymous commentators goading her further immediately create a sense of apprehension. This is only heightened with the protagonist’s phone conversations with her fans.
The main theme at play in Cam is the duality of personality. Whilst this is driven home through the appearance of the doppelgänger, it is also evident in the contrast in Alice’s real life and her online persona. Cinematographer Katelin Arizmendi further emphasises this duality through the use of colour and lighting. The brightly coloured, artificial online footage is a world away from the largely naturally lit, dull tones of Alice’s day-to-day life.
As Cam draws towards its conclusion, the sense of dread is still strong. Yet it feels like the writers do not know where to go in ending the film satisfactorily. The climax refuses to answer the main question, instead leaving the the narrative in an existential quandary. This is only a minor concern, as the film excels as a thriller for the most part. Madeline Brewer offers a solid performance as Alice. The character has sufficient development for viewers to really get on her side. Patch Darragh is also decent as Tink.
The film is well paced, maintaining the sense of unease throughout. Despite its premise, Cam doesn’t rely on exploitation to reel in viewers.
Cam is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.