Movie Review | Cam
Perfect Blue Pink?
Movie summary: Alice, an ambitious camgirl, wakes up one day to discover she's been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself. (IMDb)
When I first heard about Cam, it sounded like it could almost be a live-action version of Perfect Blue, which is a movie I loved for how dark and twisted it proved to be. While this is certainly a very creepy movie at times, it doesn't quite commit to the darker aspects of the story and comes off as very watered-down compared to the animated film.
For starters, this is another that makes me wonder why American studios produce movies based around sex work or sex workers without being willing to be graphic about sex and nudity. I think this film would've worked a lot better if it was made anywhere but North America because there wouldn't be such a hang-up about this core part of the story.
There are plenty of bare breasts in Cam, but that's about as far as the film is willing to go when flashing the flesh. This leads to the same problem I had with Keira Knightley in Colette, which is restricting how the camera can move or the shots that can be chosen because of only going so far and no further when it comes to nudity.
As a result, you get a very colourful movie that is still pretty lacklustre visually and feels extremely low budget - I get that horror films tend to be low budget, but this really does feel like it was made for pennies at times. The limited number of locations doesn't help either, and it wouldn't surprise me if most places were just homes belonging to a producer or another member of the crew.
This limited scope extends to the world-building too, making Cam feel very 'small', with Madeline Brewer's Alice having her family and co-workers, but apparently no friends of any kind. It's one of those things that starts to bug when things should start to feel desperate and you wonder why she can't go to a friend and you suddenly realise she doesn't have any.
That could've been something the story explored - her occupation as a sex worker making her reluctant to find friends due to fear of them finding out - but this is something dealt with via the family instead and Alice's lonely life with no apparent future in sight is never addressed.
The limitations also apply to the story, which - as stated right at the start - is genuinely creepy at times and does seem to be building to what could've been a great finale, but kind of wastes it and retroactively makes things a little less creepy. Not wanting to spoil the ending, but the 'threat' in Cam is ultimately not quite as malevolent as it seems.
To be fair, how Alice deals with this threat is bloody, brutal and definitely not for the squeamish. It was wince-inducing to watch, but also highlights how much more comfortable American film-making is with bloody violence than sex and nudity. Although the movie's relative 'prudishness' helps to sell the physical trauma as you never expect it to go that far.
As for Madeline Brewer's performance as Alice and 'Lola', her camgirl persona, there's nothing that can really be faulted. She reacts pretty much as you'd expect someone to react in this bizarre scenario she finds herself in and proves pretty resourceful to boot - it'd be harsh to criticise Brewer for faults with the script and she does the best she can.
The supporting cast are a bit of a mixed bag, with Patch Darragh the best of the rest as the definitely-creepy TinkerBoy - one of Lola's biggest fans - but there aren't really any other roles that stand out as being noteworthy. They do a job, but it's that limited scope again restricting any greater depth being added to make anyone other than Alice memorable.
There is something to be said for how well Cam depicts identity theft being able to quickly ruin someone's life, especially if they have a different persona on-line in comparison to how other people in their life know them, but the movie never quite goes far enough to make that point stick either - the neat resolution doesn't help.
I don't want to sound too harsh on Cam, as I did enjoy watching the movie and it's only 94 minutes long, so it doesn't outstay its welcome. It's that failure to commit to the darker parts of the story that hurts it - this is 15-rated in the UK and I'd love to see what an 18-rated version would be like, because there's enough potential shown here for it to have been a lot better than it turned out to be.
Cam is certainly a creepy movie that I enjoyed watching, but feels like the kind of movie that will bug me the more time I spend thinking about it. There's a lot of unanswered questions that aren't really helped by the main character seeming to have no life outside of her job, meaning she never feels like a real person you should be rooting for, which lowers the stakes considerably.