A suspicious charge on a credit card, a call from the bank — few among us haven’t experienced this. Mostly the notifications cause minor inconvenience, but that isn’t always the case. Set in the world of “cam-girls” — women who perform sexual acts in online chat rooms for money — Daniel Goldhaber’s feature debut, Cam, derives its horror from the all-too-real idea of a total identity theft, enacted through means of the digital world. Lola (Madeline Brewer), a cam-girl, discovers that someone has not only compromised her account but is impersonating her online. And her existential crisis is compounded by the fact that no one really seems to believe, or even understand, her plight. The more she tries to explain herself the crazier she sounds, to the point that she questions her own sanity.
Blurs the line between sex-positive self-fulfillment and a sacrifice on the altar of male fantasy, a coy maneuver that threatens to derail an otherwise effective piece of paranoiac horror.
To his credit, Goldhaber doesn’t over-explain the mechanism of this attack, and the gnawing sense of dread in his film never dissipates. Where Goldhaber falters is in his depiction of the cam-girls’ relationships with the anonymous men on the other side of the screen. The impersonal, voyeuristic nature of the act, with its intrinsic exploitive undertones, is left mostly unexplored, a problem magnified by an ending that’s too vague about its attitude toward Lola’s continued participation in this culture. Cam blurs the line between sex-positive self-fulfillment and a sacrifice on the altar of male fantasy, a coy maneuver that threatens to derail an otherwise effective piece of paranoiac horror.
You can currently stream Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam on Netflix.