|Directed by||Daniel Goldhaber|
|Music by||Gavin Brivik|
|Edited by||Daniel Garber|
Cam is a 2018 American psychological horror film directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei, from a story by Goldhaber, Mazzei and Isabelle Link-Levy. The story is partially drawn from writer Mazzei's own experience working as a camgirl. The film is the first feature film for both Goldhaber and Mazzei.
Alice Ackerman works as a cam girl online, broadcasting live non-nude shows from a studio she has set up in her home under the name "Lola". She is obsessed with her rank on the cam site, hoping to break into the top 50 and eventually be number 1. Meanwhile, her mother is unaware of her career, believing that she works in web development. In one show, Alice simulates suicide on camera by pretending to slit her throat, causing fake blood to pour from a prosthetic on her neck. The fake suicide earns her large tips and increased popularity. She video chats with Barney, the site's owner, and he tells her he will be in her area soon, suggesting they meet while he is in town. Alice writes down the date and location before Barney suddenly logs off.
In her next show at home, Alice finally hits the top 50, but barely has a chance to celebrate before her rank starts dropping rapidly, due to a rival cam girl, Princess_X, promising to reveal more of her body if "Lola" drops 10 spots. Alice quickly logs off before her rank drops any further. Alice later goes to a commercial studio for cam girls to do a joint show with her friend and fellow cam girl, Fox. During the show, she is restrained on top of a vibrator, the intensity of which is controlled by the tips of the men watching.
Soon, Alice notices that "Lola" is currently streaming, even though she is not online. She contacts the site's customer service to see if they are playing an old show, but they assure her that playing old shows is impossible. Alice is locked out of her account, so she logs in to a spare account to watch the show. The "Lola" on-screen reads and responds to Alice's chats, proving that the show is indeed live. The woman on the broadcast looks, sounds, and acts exactly like the real Alice. Alice's account is banned for attempting to warn the viewers of the doppelganger, so she creates a new one to watch and chat with her double.
At first, she suspects Princess_X is behind this, but Princess_X assures Alice that she would have just deleted the account if she had access to Alice's password. She contacts the police, but they ask Alice inappropriate questions and refuse to help. With no hope of getting back into her camming account, she watches and sees that a cam girl named Baby is advertising an upcoming live show with "Lola" and Alice attempts to get into contact with Baby. Meanwhile, her younger brother Jordan's friends see a stream by the fake Lola while attending Jordan's birthday party, which they then show him. He gets into a fight with his friend who called Alice a porn star, before confronting Alice in front of their mother and the other guests. Her secret exposed, Alice panics and leaves. The Lola double, meanwhile, is staging increasingly elaborate shows with more effects, like simulating suicide by gunshot, bringing her rank up.
Alice meets with Barney at his hotel and they go to a restaurant. She asks him if he has Baby's contact information. Barney is confused, because Lola is planning a show with Baby, but mentions that he visited Baby in her hometown in Georgia, showing Alice a photo from the trip. Alice excuses herself to the bathroom, and while inside "Lola" goes live. Barney sees the notification and goes into the bathroom to confront Alice, accusing her of lying about her identity then assaulting her. Alice is able to escape and goes home.
Alice is able to identify Baby's hometown based on a detail from Barney's picture and finds Baby's real name, Hannah Darin. She then finds out that Hannah Darin died in a car crash years ago. The fact that Baby is still broadcasting live means that whatever created the Lola copy also made one of Baby. Alice watches Lola and Baby's live show from her bedroom when Lola and Baby decide to go into "Lola's" bedroom, a place Alice has never streamed from. She attempts to barricade her door, but Lola and Baby nonetheless enter a room identical to Alice's bedroom.
Alice investigates and identifies other cam girls she believes to be replicas, and notices that all of them have "Tinker" as their top friend. Knowing that Tinker is staying nearby due to an earlier interaction, and she goes to his motel to confront him. He tells her he knows about the replicas, but that he is not behind them and does not know how they work. Tinker promises to help Alice and asks her to stay, but he then goes to the bathroom to have a private cam session with Lola. Alice is enraged and locks Tinker out of the bathroom and she interacts with Lola, who does not recognize that Alice is identical to her, believing that Alice is Tinker's girlfriend.
Alice then goes home and uses her vanity mirror, camera, and television to create an image which shows both her and the double. She then convinces the Lola double to allow Alice to stream from her camera as well. Viewers are confused by the two Lola's, but chalk it up to more special effects. Alice challenges Lola to a contest where they must imitate each other's actions and whoever the viewers think does the best wins. If Alice wins, she gets to ask anything of Lola. Alice and Lola then compete by performing increasingly violent acts on themselves, culminating in Alice breaking her nose by repeatedly slamming her head into the table. Alice is declared the winner by the viewers and demands Lola's account password, and Lola reluctantly complies. Alice then uses the password to delete the account, just as it reaches the number 1 rank.
Sometime later, Alice prepares to start a live show under a new account, with her now supportive mother assisting. The film ends as Alice sits down and starts all over again.
Screenwriter Isa Mazzei, a former cam girl herself, originally wanted to create a documentary film about cam girls. She decided that a documentary was not the best medium, telling Vice, "I felt like often, for people that I talk to about camming, no matter how much I would explain it or show it to them, they still didn't fully get it." She decided a horror film would be a better way to present the story.
Much of the story was drawn from Mazzei's own experience as a cam girl. The story element of Lola having her image stolen came from Mazzei having her camming videos pirated and reposted without crediting her. Alice's interactions with the police officers are taken from Mazzei and other sex workers' experiences of being dismissed and hit on when reaching out for help. According to Mazzei, the question one of the police officers asks her, "What's the weirdest thing you've ever had to do?", was actually asked of her by several Hollywood executives in meetings once they learned that she had previously worked as a cam model.
Mazzei and director Daniel Goldhaber had been friends since high school, and he had previously directed some of her pornographic videos. Goldhaber's directing credits had previously only been shorts and student films.
The film has a joint opening credit "A Film by Isa Mazzei & Daniel Goldhaber", in place of the traditional opening credit which only credits the director. According to Mazzei and Goldhaber this was done as "a rebuke to director-oriented auteurship".
The film had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 18, 2018. Shortly after, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released on November 16, 2018.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 73 reviews, and an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Smart and suspenseful, CAM is a techno-thriller that's far more than the sum of its salacious parts -- and an outstanding showcase for Madeline Brewer in the leading role." Metacritic reports a weighted average score 71 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Award||Date of Ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Brooklyn Horror Film Festival||October 23, 2018||Best Actress - Head Trip Competition||Madeline Brewer||Won|||
|Best Production Design - Head Trip Competition||Emma Rose Mead||Won|
|Audience Choice Award||Cam||Won|
|Fantasia International Film Festival||July 24, 2018||New Flesh Award for Best Feature Film||Daniel Goldhaber||Won|||
|Cheval Noir Award for Best Screenplay||Isa Mazzei||Won|||
|Philadelphia Film Festival||October 30, 2018||Archie Award for Best Feature Film||Daniel Goldhaber||Nominated|||
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