Cam (2018)

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber
Written by Isa Mazzei, Daniel Goldhaber, Isabelle Link-Levy
Produced by Christa Boarini, Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, John H. Lang, Isabelle Link-Levy, Daniel Garber, Floris Bauer, Michael Joe, Isa Mazzei, Couper Samuelson, Beatriz Sequeira
Starring Madeline Brewer, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Patch Darragh, Michael Dempsey, Flora Diaz, Samantha Robinson, Imani Hakim, Quei Tann, Jessica Parker Kennedy


In an alternate dimension where mods and admins don’t exist, a camgirl (Brewer) obsessed with her status on a livestreaming site performs salacious and shocking stunts less for profit than popularity, both solo and in association with friendly peers (Diaz, Tann, et aliae), until her account and online identity are usurped by a doppelganger whose allurement and resulting rank exceed her own.


To their credit, quondam cammer Mazzei with co-scripters Goldhaber and Link-Levy schemed some succulent scenarios to beset her protagonist by depicting reciprocal exploitation and ineludible deceits peculiar to sexualized parasociality with a frankness unseen in most genre pictures about slutty streamers. Viewers of this parable might be reasonably expected to suspend their disbelief when either her flirty fille or identical impostor are neither suspended nor banned for public lewdness and self-abuse both simulated and substantial, or to overlook the question of possible malversation and its legal consequences in her favor. Alas, Mazzei’s treatment of her themes is vainly observational, opting for smutty spectacle over insight. A rider in Brewer’s contract provisioning her discretion regarding nudity in concordance with her comfort in any given scene may have been an effective conducement to a more involved performance, but it exudes the pissant puritanism preserved in corporate Anglo-feminism, and it’s a concession meditated to distract attention from what is ultimately a cynically manipulative production.


His slow zooms, and encircling and tracking shots probably penetrate his target demographic for desired reactions, but Goldhaber’s techniques are as bromidically nondescript as those seen in anything else churned out for streaming consumption.


More accreditation is due to Daniel Garber for his engrossing editorial expedition, meticulously made to hasten rate and optimize impacts.


Shapely yet witchly Brewer tackles her emotionally exhausting lead role with elan, physically repellent Darragh and Dempsey are aptly cast as two subscribers who she’s unfortunate to meet, and Walters welcomely ballasts a few scenes as Brewer’s mother….but everyone is flagrantly acting in compliance with overwrought Millennial norms. Robinson’s so cartoonish as a cruel online rival that she reminds all watching of these characters’ uniform shallowness.


Like Garber’s editing, the soothing synth pads and percussive crescendos of Gavin Brivik’s largely sequenced, sampled, and synthesized score impart more impression than Goldhaber’s direction.


To the usual critical credulity, this was tacitly touted by Mazzei and Goldhaber as something transcending the habitual techno-thriller. If you believe that blather, you might miss a movie that occupyingly shoulders the weight of their pretensions.

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