Over the last two or so years there’s been a noticeable boom in what I’m coining the “techno-horror” genre (technology based horror), which isn’t very surprising considering how we’ve all become sheeple with iPhones glued to our hands – but that movie would essentially be nothing but a new-age zombie flick.
A movie like Cam2Cam takes a bit of commonplace internet entertainment, like video chatting, and introduces a sadistic twist that confirms creeping paranoias already planted in our brains. Nothing is safe online, nor sacred, as hackers can get just about any information they’d need simply by sending a virus via email or download. Age, hair color, mother’s maiden name, college GPA; it’s all accessible to the right people – including your current location. Movies like The Den have already proved that the internet is a vastly more horrifying beast than we could ever imagine, masturbating perverts aside, but Cam2Cam does very little to advance our fears in ways that spark our circuits. This is the third movie about video chatting I’ve logged onto this year alone (The Den/Open Windows), and unfortunately it’s also the most disappointing, like a chatroom hottie who won’t even spill her a/s/l.
Set in Thailand, we meet a travelista named Allie (Tammin Sursok) who posts up at a hostel type complex filled with an eclectic cast of roommates. While being shown around by one of her friendly neighbors, she learns of an online chat program called Cam2Cam, where you can interact with people online in any capacity you’d like. Some do it for attention, some for companionship and others for money, but it appears that everyone in the area uses Cam2Cam. Logging on, Allie becomes interested, but learns of a string of murders committed by a video chatting stalker who would find woman through Cam2Cam and chop their heads off, one of which was staying in Allie’s current room. Uncertain, she begins to believe the killer is still on the loose, and finds herself in a growing state of paranoia – but is she really the next victim, or just fearful of her current locale?
Cam2Cam sets itself in a world of hackers and internet deviants who are overblown embellishments of what writers Marie Gautier and Davy Sihali believe online culture to currently be – or what they’ve seen on TV, at least. I’ve spent limited time in internet chatrooms and randomly connected video chats, and I certainly can talkz cheezburger on command, but I’ve never seen anyone shorthand “neighbor” with “naybr.” Really? “No, wz awsum. Seriosly. Continu.” Again, I can decipher “l337” talk screamed by angry pre-pubescent gamers, the lowliest of tech lingo, yet I’ve never read anything nearly as nonsensical as Cam2Cam chat.
There’s literally no logic to the above garble, showing how disjointed from modern culture such a script ends up being – a “techno-thriller” that’s unfamiliar with its own source material. Does anyone really leave their laptop open after they’re done? No, because it burns the battery much quicker, but in Cam2Cam, where voyeurs utilize remote laptop cameras to spy on women, laptops are always angled perfectly and left upright. Sure, these may seem like insignificant details, but when representing an entire generation, realism plays a gigantic role in cinema, and I never found myself relating to Cam2Cam.
Choosing Bangkok as the film’s location makes sense given that apparently anyone can get away with murder there, but once again, Cam2Cam shows an inept ability to translate a lax governmental control into a seedy criminal playground. We’ve all heard stories about the “anything goes” mentality of this debaucherous foreign vacation spot, but the extremes that main characters are able to reach become almost laughable – even while recognizing beautifully chaotic cinematography capturing bright neon Vegas-strip style signs. How a bloody character can walk or run down bustling streets without a single police interaction, or even a concerned pedestrian, WHILE HOLDING AN AXE, becomes a distracting point when trying to decipher the mystery of Cam2Cam.
My biggest problem with Cam2Cam is a severe miscalculation while attempting to give characters life, setting actors up for failure with bottom-of-the-barrel lines. Tammin Sursok is the only presence worthy of making an impression, guiding us through twisted connections via Cam2Cam, but her co-stars never stand a chance beyond being floppy red-herrings without personality. I had trouble enjoying Sarah Bonrepaux’s turn as Sursok’s salacious new friend, spouting such throwaway comments like describing her idea for “Assbook,” you know, like “Facebook, but with dog’s asses…” – um, come again? Just the way she pushed “You’re so very badass?” out of her thick accent made me cringe a bit, which never quite made me confident in director Joel Soisson’s decisions. Other characters fall into the same dramatically inept traps, like newcomer Ben Wiggins’ stammering annoyance as Michael, as well as a murderer with strange motivations and execution – two main characters we never feel sufficiently introduced to.
It’s not that Soisson created a terrible movie, but Cam2Cam is late to the party, brings absolutely nothing notable, and sits in the corner without making a peep. The technological aspects are fried, more horrific moments barely register a single hair raise and the scariest moments end up being atrociously acted interactions between telegraphed cast members. The logic of Gautier and Sihali’s script connects via dial-up and never quite holds a viable connection, either stumbling over false tension or misusing Cam2Cam itself.
We’re in an age where horror via video chatting has already been executed crisply, and Cam2Cam can’t quite compete against superior products that are able to bridge the gap between technology and certain nightmares that stem from infinite databases housing life-threatening amounts of personal information. If you want real horror, just go surf the internet on your own accord, because there’s a serious lack of thrills in Soisson’s cyber snoozer – except for one Randal Graves approved shocker. One thing I’ll never be able to say is that the life of a film critic is certainly a predictable one…