|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.
The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 18, 2018, and was released on November 16, 2018, by Netflix. It received a largely positive reception from critics, who praised Brewer's performance, atmosphere and direction.
Alice Ackerman works as a cam girl online, broadcasting live shows from a studio she has set up in her home under the name "Lola_Lola". She is obsessed with her rank on the site, hoping to be number 1. 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 and using fake blood. This earns her large tips and increased popularity. She video chats with Barney, the site's owner, and he suggests they meet while he is in town.
In her next show, Alice finally hits the top 50, but barely has a chance to celebrate before her rank starts dropping due to a rival cam girl, Princess_X. Soon, Alice notices that "Lola" is currently streaming even though she is not online. She contacts the site's customer service 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 responds to Alice's chats, proving that the show is indeed live. The woman on the broadcast looks and acts exactly like the real Alice. Alice's account is banned for attempting to warn viewers of the doppelganger so she creates a new one.
Meanwhile, her younger brother Jordan's friends see a stream by the fake Lola, which they then show him. Jordan confronts Alice in front of their mother. Her secret exposed, Alice panics and leaves. The Lola double, meanwhile, stages elaborate shows with more effects, like simulating suicide by gunshot, bringing her rank up. At first, Alice suspects Princess_X is behind this but she is not. She contacts the police but they refuse to help. With no hope, she sees that a cam girl named Baby is advertising an upcoming live show with "Lola" and attempts to get into contact with the girl.
During her meeting with Barney, Alice excuses herself to the bathroom, and "Lola" goes live. Barney sees it and confronts Alice, accusing her of lying about her identity before assaulting her. Alice is able to escape.
Alice finds Baby's real name, Hannah Darin. She then finds out that Hannah Darin died in a car crash months 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 and identifies other cam girls she believes to be replicas. She notices that all of them have "Tinker" as their top friend and goes to confront him. He tells her he knows about the replicas, but that he is not behind them. He goes to the bathroom to have a private cam session with Lola. Enraged, Alice also interacts with Lola, who does not recognize that Alice is identical to her.
Alice goes home and uses her vanity mirror, camera, and television to create an image which shows both her and the double. Viewers chalk up the two Lolas to special effects. Alice challenges Lola to a contest where they must imitate each other and whoever the viewers think does the best wins. If Alice wins, she gets to ask anything of Lola. The two compete by performing increasingly violent acts on themselves, culminating in Alice breaking her own nose. Alice is declared the winner and she demands Lola's account password. She then deletes Lola's account just as it reaches the number 1 rank.
Sometime later, she prepares to start a live show under a new account, with her now supportive mother assisting. The film ends as she starts all over again with a new identity.
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.
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On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 94 reviews, with an average rating of 7.15/10. 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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- Hendricks, Adam (March 27, 2017). "We bought a generator! #day1 #pinkroom". Retrieved August 22, 2018 – via Instagram.
- Miska, Brad (May 2, 2018). "Fantasia Film Festival's First Wave Includes 'Bleach', 'Nightmare Cinema', and 'Under the Silver Lake'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Kroll, Justin (July 24, 2018). "Netflix Buys Fantasia Festival Thriller 'Cam' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
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- "Cam (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
- "Cam Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
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