Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor Brian Tyree Henry is coming off a sensational year. The stealing of her livelihood and character almost felt she was being robbed of what was her. Cam is the first film from Isa Mazzei screenwriter and Daniel Goldhaber director. You see, one of the things that's so refreshing about Cam is that its written by a former sex worker Isa Mazzei and is all about agency, not exploitation. But perhaps that's because we're all at risk of becoming victims to the whims of big tech. What director Daniel Goldhaber instead delivers is a movie steeped in creeping dread, as the mystery deepens and Alice tries to keep her life--and her mind--together.
Need a push to jump in? Cam focuses less on the real ways technology can be weaponized, and more on how vulnerable people can feel when their online identities are ripped away from them. That realism comes begins with Daniel Goldhaber's tight direction--which tends to be pretty neutral until they want to ramp up the paranoia, which is done to startling effect--but it mostly stems from writer Isa Mazzei, an ex-cam girl herself. After training to be an intellectual property lawyer, Dan abandoned a promising career in financial services to sit at home and play with gadgets. Producers: Isabelle Link-Levy, Adam Hendricks, John Lang, Greg Gilreath. There are no jump scares and there's little violence, and most of the movie either takes place in daylight or in the brightly-lit glare of Alice's studio. As the newly released trailer shows, she performs nightly on her web cam for anonymous voyeurs, pushing the envelope further in order to climb the rankings.
Executive producers: Michael Joe, Floris Bauer, Isa Mazzei, Beatriz Sequeira, Couper Samuelson. Alice is a cam girl who is steadily rising up the ranks of an online cam site where users tip serious money to either influence or interact with the streamer. So, is it worth watching? It has the same pluck and formal dexterity as Steven Soderbergh's pharmacological mental health thriller or Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's online gaming parable. It's night time, and webcam-performer Lola starts her erotic show in a moodily lit pink bedroom. Her road to melding her identities — even if that means revealing the Lola personality as a fabrication — is a big part of what Cam is interested in thematically. And none of the fans who send her money can tell the difference.
Madeline Brewer carries Cam The star of Cam is Madeline Brewer, who has a gorgeous and expressive face many people should recognize. Cam is produced by Blumhouse Films, who are best known for Get Out, the Purge series, and the Paranormal Activity movies. Like many people who now work for big tech, Alice is a freelancer living without a safety net or employment rights, much like Uber drivers -- who are recognized as. To help them along, she pulls out some sex toys and asks the users to decide which one she'll use that evening. For more celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.
But the combination of a sex-worker milieu, suspense mechanics and speed-of-the-internet pace should appeal to genre fans looking for something different — but not too different — from the norm. Alice becomes trapped in this and clearly will become stuck in a loop where the algorithm will trap her again. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. It's a unique experiment, one that works incredibly well and benefits greatly from Mazzei's voice and Goldhaber's thoughtful direction. It's an analog equivalent to Facebook's algorithms, working out through trial and error what the audience wants the most. Quickly, the digital mob begins demanding that she slit her own throat for their entertainment, and she does so. Cam also has a lot to say how we use our identities online, and makes some smart observations about how we are all ultimately powerless against the outside forces that control those identities.
That type of accuracy is important to a movie like Cam, the debut feature of both director Daniel Goldhaber and screenwriter Isa Mazzei. With: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey, Flora Diaz, Samantha Robinson, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Quei Tann. What Cam does beautifully is that it highlights the dangers of this and how we ourselves begin to believe that our digital self is more important than the real world. She wins, and as her prize, she demands Lola reinstate her access to her account. On a more existential bent, however, is this question: what happens when you grow to hate the version of yourself that lives online? When I sat down with Mazzei, Goldhaber and Brewer after their Fantastic Fest screening, I took the opportunity to dig into the ending with them.
If you have no qualms with endings that aren't wrapped up in a bow—and are a fan of Black Mirror—you definitely want to add it to your queue. From high profile releases such as The Prestige and Moon to weird, horror-influenced films like Denis Villeneuve's Enemy and David Lynch's Lost Highway, the idea of an exact double performing evil deeds is potent and sinister. The scariest moments of Cam have almost nothing to do with the person who stole her account at all, it's everything she's willing to do to get it back. Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. But when the impostor shows up, all of that changes, with Lola's likeness being used without her permission, her source of income stolen, and her ability to perform taken away.
Worse yet, her account is somehow live. The doppelganger has been used to scary effect in a wide variety of movies over the years. Madeline Brewer takes on the role of Lola, a young woman whose ascending career as a cam girl takes on a horrific edge when she wakes up to discover her channel has been taken on by an impostor who looks scarily like her. Though you might get an additional kick out of this film if you have a particular aversion to A. One day, if he's very, very lucky, he'll live out his dream to become the executive producer of Doctor Who before retiring to Radio 4.
Though they clearly paid a lot of attention to making the camming look accurate and likely spent a lot of time in post-production finessing the details, Cam is not locked in the frame of a computer screen. What's she supposed to do? Cam, streaming now, takes viewers deep into the webcam world, adding some surreal twists along the way. The horror movie is a technology-driven psychological thriller set in the world of webcam porn. Brewer navigates both with an effortless charm and plenty of nuance, drawing a clear line between who she is around her family and who she is with her clients. He did two short films back in 2012 and 2013 and hopefully, Cam will enable him to make more feature films soon.