Fantasia Film Festival 2018 Movie Review: CAM

Cam 3.png

CAM is the feature film debut from director Daniel Goldhabers and is co-written by Godlhabers and Isa Mazzei. The film is a surreal thriller that focuses on a webcam girl who's identity has been stolen. The film stars Madeline Brewer (The Handsmaid's Tale), Patch Darragh (The First Purge), Melora Walters (Magnolia) and Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why). 

Alice (Madeline Brewer) is a cam girl who has made quite a cushy living with her on-screen antics and boundary pushing performances under her alter-ego Lola. With a goal of breaking into the top 10 on a live streaming girls-cam network, Alice is diligent in bringing forth unique content for her followers, while also maintaining her own set of rules (no public shows, no telling men she loves them, no faking orgasms) and making sure to keep her personal and professional life apart. Everything is going great until one day when finds that she can't log into her account. She quickly learns that someone else is using her profile and recording in her home... someone who that looks identical to her... someone that knows intimate details of her life... and someone who is going against the rules Alice has put into place.

Prior to watching this, I had begun to hear a lot of buzz for the film, especially in regards to how it showcases the lives of those involved in a facet of sex work. The film is electric from start to finish, with a stunning performance from actress Madeline Brewer, who truly shows her range of talent in her dual performance as Alice/Lola. I think a lot of people have pre-conceived notions when it comes to sex work and the backdrop in which these encounters take place, which is why I loved how the design of the film was executed. When we meet Lola, she performs in a room that is draped in a pink hue surrounded by decor that is fluffy and inviting. When she reverts back to Alice, we find her drenched in mediocrity and muted hues, the perfect juxtaposition between the fabricated, dreamlike world that she prepares for the camera. 

CAM does a great job of exposing people's prejudices towards sex work. There's this underlying judgment directed towards those in this profession that signifies the acceptance of how sex workers are treated. Not only is that extremely damaging and dangerous, it's also not true. Just like in any industry, regardless of if you are being paid or not, if you feel uncomfortable doing something you should always have the choice to stop. However, in the world of sex transactions, men, primarily, feel as though they have the right to dominate and abuse women against their will. This brings up a conversation on how society treats sex workers and the unfair stigma they face. Throughout the film, we see how Alice is perceived by those close to her, as well as the verbal abuse and threats that are directed towards her because of the work she does. 

In terms of the more eerie aspects of the film, that beings to play out relatively early on. Though we are never given a definitive answer as to who, or what, is behind the identical replacement of Alice, it's quite chilling when you realize just how easily accessible it is for people to access your information online. We live in a day and age where everyone can share everything online at a moment's notice, and as exciting as that can be, we never really think about who could be following along with our journey. In the case of CAM, Alice finds out just how quickly an entire identity can be stolen as well as the devastating consequences that can have upon her family and friends. The true horror of this film isn't in the revelation of who the other Alice/Lola is, but in the ability to easily access people's most guarded information. 

All in all, I found CAM to be a tightly wound thriller that kept me guessing throughout its entire runtime. With a brilliant performance from Madeline Brewer, a relevant and important storyline that embraces sex workers, and a neon-infused color palette to die for, it's easy to understand why so many people have such positive things to say about this film. I urge you to see CAM when it's released, which I hope will be soon as Netflix has recently announced that it had acquired the film for streaming. In the meantime, be careful what you post on the internet, you never know who's watching. 

CAM had it's World Premiere on July 18th at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Shannon M.