Cam2Cam Dir. Joel Soisson

[IFC Films ; 2014]

Styles: cybersploitation, horror, slasher
Others: Cabin in The Woods, Lawnmower Man

The underbelly of cyberspace is a thrillingly lowbrow venue for the URL/IRL deconstruction and its lurid repercussions. Cam2Cam is the eHorror endeavor of director Joel Sisson (who brought you Piranha 3D and a couple of Hellraiser sequels) and is involuntarily engaging for the same reasons that we find ourselves eating alone at McDonald’s or watching late night infomercials for “EroticLiveChat” or “AdultHangoutHotlines!” The film follows faithfully all the tenets of a true blue delectable slasher film; however, its visual panache becomes obfuscated in a flaccid attempt at psychological horror.

Cam2Cam delivers a slick and sleazy opening montage of pixellated webcam deviance and sordid textual exchanges in large Comic Sans font. We are introduced to Lucy (Jade Tailor), a young woman living in a technicolor-drenched metropolis of Bangkok, Thailand. Lucy is also a denizen of Cam2Cam, an online red light district hinged on the idea that all interactive hijinks stay behind the keyboard. Her repartee turned striptease with her “female friend” named Insomniac takes a twisted turn when the latter starts to unleash threats — all-caps threats, complete with devilish emoticons. In a desperate attempt for help, Lucy opens her door but is then beheaded by her sweaty, bad-holiday-sweater-clad neighbor (Russell Geoffrey Banks) who is revealed to be the mastermind behind Insomniac.

Shortly thereafter, Lucy’s naive American sister Allie (Tammin Sursok) arrives to demystify the events of Lucy’s death. She is befriended by Marit (Sarah Bonrepeaux), a French nightlife street urchin with an ulterior motive and Sapphic designs, and by Michael (Ben Wiggins), her cryptic British sidekick with subtle hints of sociopathy. While they explore the streets of Bangkok, Marit provides a scathing social commentary on the problematic nature of tourism and then manages to lure Allie into signing onto Cam2Cam. At this point, every element is in place for the gory and the sexual to reach a crescendo. However, the film’s momentum diverges, becoming dictated by the unnecessarily elaborate plotlines of Allie’s revenge and the Cruel Intentions-style triangle between the three.

The film is worthy enough of a watch for its imagery alone, which is its strong suit. Bangkok as a setting is utilized extremely well, from its architecture and natural landscape and down to its citizens observing the events in disgust. The Cam2Cam platform is visualized in striking cyber-camp fashion, and there’s plenty of blood, appendages, and deranged expressions littering seedy hostels and city streets.

This film’s kind of double-crossing, cutting dialogue, and shifting characters are usually effective only if kept simple, in line with the aesthetic mores of the horror genre. But instead, they are needlessly over-complicated in this case. In its pursuit of complexity, Cam2Camabruptly loses its self-awareness and, in the process, its sense of humor, making it rather irrelevant to an audience who, in short, wishes only for impaling, axes, nudity, and synth stabs sans distraction or complication.

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