Cam2Cam, a review
“Here – everyone has a secret. Or will.”
I have never been naive when it comes to what might be out there in the vastness of the Internet. My friend Ben and I were one of the first lads perusing the AOL chat rooms back in the dark ages of dial up, but the understanding of what we were opening ourselves up to would take many years to develop.
I was first introduced to a website called Cam4 (similar to the fictional Cam2Cam website of the film at hand) and many other sites that you can probably easily find…and others less easy to discover…which may or may not require a money order and someone “in the know” to visit) shortly after moving to LA just over a year ago. The situation of which I will of course save for my “year in Los Angeles” memoir.
For those of you who don’t know, these are webcamcentric sites where you can watch people all over the world pretty much doing whatever you might imagine, eventually finding what might get your rocks off. And sometimes you can get the person you are watching to do something a little different or extra and sometimes they might be able to get you to do the same. All with the exchange of a little cashola. It is an intoxicating proposition, believe me, full of flashing lights, disco balls and satin sheets. I met people who wouldn’t even walk into a stranger’s house without asking their host to tape up the webcam of every computer screen in the house. I always thought it was a little strange. Until one creep told me, “If I wanted to tape you, I would already have you on film and trust me, you wouldn’t even know it.”
We members of the blogoratti often turn our arsenal on the basement dwellers (similar to this against your will filmer I just mentioned) who seem to anonymously have nothing else better to do but inflict that which they would probably not do halfway up the stairs of that basement toward the living room of reality. But that’s the beauty of the Internet. Screw who you want and screw over whom you wish.
“Cam2Cam,” the new IFC Midnight film directed by Joel Soisson begins in a slightly different place, with the erotic intimacy and peace that certain aspects the almost underground Internet can bring. Our tale begins with Lisa. She is beautiful, American…with a cute pet monkey a bottle of wine, a laptop a white shirt…and little else. She opens the laptop and begins chatting with a “friend” Emelie, which leads to an erotic if creepy striptease. We aren’t sure where either Lisa or Emelie is exactly, and this ignorance actually heightens the mysteries of the webchat. Is the Emelie she is chatting with in France perhaps? Is Lisa in South America? Lisa sure is glistening with sweat. Or is Emilie truly a threat and RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!?
When it comes to horror movies I have one major personal rule. “Give in.” I go into most horror films with a mostly empty mind and open heart. Ready to be scared out of my wits without going too deeply into the analytical. There is a moment early on when I know that “Cam2Cam” is going to work for me. During Lisa’s videochat with Emelie she has a realization that I had just milliseconds before her which makes that light bulb moment work just perfectly. Suddenly the peaceful intimacy of Lisa and Emelie’s chat is interrupted by the annoyance of technology. Emoticons. Emoticons with annoying sounds. Repeating dings and “hahahaha’s” and such. As Lisa’s heart begins to race, your heart begins to race. All she has to do is shut it down. “Shut the bitch down” you might want to yell briefly at the screen right before she does. Well, if it was that simple it would be a short film now, wouldn’t it. So the scene goes on and we get the disappointingly obvious outcome we expect from this type of horror flick…or so we think.
Flashforward: Tammin Sursok’s “Allie” enters the scene and we immediately get the impression that she is the new head bitch in charge or our flick. A woman with a vengeance. Allie moves into the apartment where Lisa was killed and immediately her hot new lady neighbor, Marit (played by Sara Bonrepaux) surprisingly spills the beans about the murder. And before my brain can remind me that Allie is obviously here on a mission and surprisingly not too upset about the matter she tells us she is in Thailand (ding ding ding…that’s where we are!) on a post grad school world tour. Allie and Marit of course hit it off and then that annoying obviousness in the opening act resurfaces and is flipped around on me and suddenly I have no idea exactly where the film is going. Great news for a horror movie.
Sursok and Bonrepaux do have a really sweet and fun, playful, sexy chemistry, but sorry pervs, as Allie says to Marit when she is first introduced to the Cam2Cam website: “It sounds porny.” But no… ”Sometimes a friend is just a friend.” A sexy friend…but still a friend.
I must now confess that I am a huge fan of “Pretty Little Liars,” (on which Sursok plays Jenna) and it is quite obvious that released from her supporting and blinded role on that show she is more than game to take on a leading presence. But she chooses an edgy lighthearted take for Allie…with secrets clearly bubbling near the surface.
But the lighthearted-ish doesn’t remain for long when one of the characters finally begins to reveal the truth to Allie and “Cam2Cam” turns creepy again with an all too familiarish strip tease thanks to both director Joel Soisson and Bonrepaux’s Merit, (don’t want to give away too much though!) but shortly after a very exciting hatcheting and a chase/zombiefied stroll through the streets (where the locals hilariously and brilliantly ignore our blood soaked heroine) the pacing and screenplay goes a bit awry. Perhaps it is the daylight literally being shed on the situation. Perhaps the gondola carrying Allie and her reveal-er should have been a motorcycle. Or maybe there should have been a little more snipping in the editing room. Alas, who cares? We eventually get to our final moments, 3 years later and an ending I found satisfying and clearly sequel worthy. Bottom line…If you have ever skyped or used a webcam and wondered…what if…and love a good scare. Just follow my rule. Give in.
Cam2Cam is available via VOD and in theaters.