Film Review – Cam (2018) – DFF
Cam will be playing at the Denver Film Festival from October 31st to November 11th. Head over to the DFF’s website to purchase your tickets!
The low-budget space makes for fascinatingly strange works of art. Though budget is often a problem, filmmakers can get oddly creative, making for a better finished product in the end. Cam does just that, using its grungy aesthetic to its advantage for a decidedly Lynchian experience that oozes oddities.
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Daniel Goldhaber
Written By: Isa Mazzei
Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, and Michael Dempsey
Alice (Brewer) is an ambitious camgirl who will stop at nothing to reach the top of the charts on the webcam porn site that she uses. A higher ranking means higher popularity, which ultimately leads to higher profits. Alice’s desire to rank higher reaches an insatiably high level, leading to her videos becoming more and more experimental — not to mention dangerous.
But one day, in an odd turn of events, she wakes up to see that an exact replica of her is using her show and platform. This double begins using Alice’s platform for its own gain, pushing Alice’s online identity to the brink until it’s not hers anymore. Alice quickly rushes to figure out who this double is and what motives it may have.
Blumhouse is on a serious roll as of late. Odds are that you’ve seen the new Halloween by now, which set multiple box office records such as the highest opening weekend gross for a slasher movie, the highest opening weekend for the entire Halloween franchise, among many others. Cam will continue this success as the psychological thriller was recently purchased by Netflix and will become available for streaming on November 16th.
Needless to say, Blumhouse is the market leader for the horror/thriller genre. While the quality of the films they produce doesn’t always exactly hit the mark (looking at you, Truth or Dare), they almost always make a resounding profit on each film thanks to their micro-budgets.
Jason Blum has cracked the code when it comes to horror. He has made remarks in the past that he would always feel uneasy green-lighting a movie with a budget that is more than $10 million (although M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass will have a much bigger budget by Blumhouse standards), so sit back and relax as his production company slowly takes over the horror landscape!
Madeline Brewer is Fearless
By the synopsis above, you can surmise that Cam is not for everyone. The world of webcam pornography isn’t exactly a subject that brings your family together. Well, if it does, you probably have other issues to attend to…
Regardless, the role of a webcam girl is one that many actresses would immediately balk at. It’s not what someone fresh out of the Oxford School of Drama would call “ACTING!” On the surface, Brewer work as Alice isn’t analogous to the thousands of costume dramas with Keira Knightley on the surface, but it’s equally as engrossing and impressive, if not more so.
Brewer is pretty awesome as the conduit for this odd story. She commits fully, leading the audience into the pits of scuzzy, digital hell. Her character isn’t exactly as fleshed out (we’ll get to that in a few), but Brewer is a spectacular presence. Not only does she perfectly play the part of a girl who is absurdly nice for your money (she has a few moments of fakeness that are absolutely priceless), but she has many moments of pure emotion and animalistic expression that are so true and real. Brewer grounds this elseworld story perfectly. She’s certainly an actor to watch out for in the coming years.
Cam is Perfectly Scuzzy
Especially given recent events in the industry over the last few months, Cam could have devolved into a gross, exploitative mess of a film that solely makes audiences uncomfortable. Thankfully, Daniel Goldhaber keeps things tasteful. Cam deals with the webcam porn world, so yes, there’s nudity in this movie. But it’s never excessive for the material. You get the sense that Goldhaber always had restraint when telling this story and, most importantly, the actors were comfortable. I truly admire Goldhaber in that respect. There should always be room in film to tell gross, unsettling stories if they have a purpose. There’s a line to every type of film, and Cam does not cross one.
Cam is more about the double identity of our online personas with a thriller twist. In that respect everything about Cam works perfectly on a visual level.
I love it when films take an odd twist on a real-life issue while keeping everything grounded in reality. It makes for more singular viewing experiences when done correctly.
Cam Would Have Benefitted from Better Character Work
But still, Cam doesn’t provide enough character depth for complete immersion into this world. All the performances are strong, but most of the actors are simply placeholders for a discussion of identity in the modern world. Don’t get me wrong, I admire that this movie is about something. But Cam lacks that connection to reality in the sense that there was more investment needed in these characters to dive head first into story.
The aesthetic is great, but I would have loved to learn more about Alice. I could care less if she has a heart of gold or is merely a vapid, shallow human out for money and nothing else. There’s a strong statement to make about the state of the online world in either scenario. Cam doesn’t make a decision either way. So while Madeline Brewer is lights out in the role, she’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting. I wish the script had given her more to handle.
Cam is a delightfully odd, icky experience that shows the fascination that can come from creating an intentionally unhinged story. Given its subject matter, it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but there’s a lot of skill and prowess built into this psychological thriller. You’re going to start hearing Madeline Brewer’s name more often in popular culture as a result.
Cam is a throwback to movies from the 80’s and 90’s with a modern edge, making for a movie that you probably will not forget any time soon.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Cam? Comment down below!
Visit the Denver Film Festival’s website for more information on the film.
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