Quick Hit: Brilliantly shot and acted, the second half slowly falls apart as the tale never feels fully told.
I literally had no idea what I was walking into with Cam, which is something I’ve stated before doesn’t happen very often. So it kind of blindsided me that this was about Camgirls – that slightly shadier side of the internet that contains apparently a vicious struggle to get to the top. And, yes, sometimes it gets pretty weird.
Madeline Brewer stars as Alice, whose Camgirl name is Lola. She’s struggling her way up the ranks in some increasingly alarming ways – false suicides seem to be one of her big hits. But one day she goes to log onto the site and is blocked… because she’s already logged on. Eventually she realizes that someone who looks exactly like her is currently broadcasting… and is better at it than she is. This leads her to spiral through some extreme depression as she loses what was her income and a huge portion of her hidden life.
The set-up for the film is pretty good. It doesn’t have any problem getting into the nitty gritty of what makes the shadier parts of the internet tick. It also explores a huge fear that exists in our society full of catfishing and data breaches – what would happen if someone took my online life? If they took over my social media, blocked me out, and became me? How would I prove that they were the imposter – and worse, how would it make me feel knowing that someone is a better me than me? It all fades together to feel like an overlong Black Mirror episode that feeds into our fears about technology.
However, despite some really awesome setup, I think that Cam fails to deliver on its promise. It’s through no fault of Brewer, who is fantastic, particularly alternating as she is between the two different roles (one could even argue three roles, as her online persona is so different from the one she shares with family members). No, the fault lies in the bumbling of the plot as the film continues towards its climax. There’s no payoff at the end, there’s no explanation, outside of a frantically inserted one via one of the guys who frequents the Camgirl site. It’s frustrating, because I feel like there are multiple ideas that would exist, whether you went supernatural or technical in order to explain why this all happened.
I think the highlight of the film though, outside of Brewer, is the cinematography. Lola’s carefully crafted persona is not just due to Brewer’s acting, but also in the way the camera presents her room – different colors and lighting instantly tell it apart from anything else. There’s also some great use of neon colors – blue and pinks mainly – in some of the scenes throughout the movie. This gives the film a technically advanced look that lends to the ideas that are played with, but never totally explained.
So yes, I think Cam has enough to it to watch, despite the bungled ending. But it could have been a masterpiece of technopunk, and instead, ended up slightly above average. I’m giving it a “C+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"