Monster Nation: Cam2Cam

         

           The new film Cam2Cam, debuting today in theaters and on VOD, is the sort of thing one used to find on “Skinemax” in its heyday: a titillating but mediocre erotic thriller that’s neither erotic nor particularly thrilling. 

            The movie starts out with some promise, at least.  A comely brunette engages in a video chat with another sexy gal that begins flirtatiously but quickly turns nasty and threatening; it’s sort of like a cyberspace take on the Scream opening sequence.  Director Joel Soisson has a flashy style and generates some good suspense here—suspense that’s sadly lacking in the rest of the movie.  We next meet Allie (Tammin Sursok of Pretty Little Liars), a grad student vacationing in Bangkok who takes up residence in the brunette’s old apartment.  The complex is like a grungy expat Melrose Place, with a hunky young buck and a pair of girls who all turn out to work on the titular chat site.  (All of the chat scenes annoyingly overuse text slang like “w8” and “need 2 talk 2 u.”)  One of them, Marit (Sarah Bonrepaux) takes a liking to Allie and takes her out on the town.  But naturally the cyber stalker and other nefarious goings on are lurking nearby.

            Sursok is an appealing enough lead, and her chemistry with Bonrepaux is strong.  Unfortunately, Marit quickly disappears from the film, and the lame script does Sursok’s character no favors, either: at times she’s an assertive bad-ass who barely flinches when a railing breaks off her window ledge, while in another scene she freaks out when the admittedly pervy landlord surprises her to do some maintenance.  (And really, pity any performer who actually has to sell the hoary old “get the keys off the sleeping guy” sequence.)  This is the kind of screenplay that delivers exposition in the clunkiest possible way while trading in unintentional howlers like “Everyone here has a secret, or they will.”  Some of the twists are novel, but many just come off as ludicrous.  I wish the movie had given more time to the parade of freaky performers on the site, like the jock strapped mime(!), instead of the uninspiring few that take center stage.  There’s a tacky reveal that’s vaguely transphobic, and for a film set in Bangkok there are disappointingly few Asian characters of any importance.  Cam2Cam has the queasy feeling of a movie that both condemns misogynistic menace and exploits nubile babes, and it takes itself way too seriously.  By the time a character tells Allie to meet him at the Palace of Dawn at… dawn, you really will be reminded of those bad “sexy” 90s thrillers.

            For most of the movie’s running time I was involved, and I appreciated the director’s visual flourishes and the brief flashes of originality.  But this is a slasher that offers only ugly bits of gore and a thin, goofy storyline, and in the end falls apart under the weight of its own ridiculousness.  There’s a meant-to-be-dramatic final reveal and an out of left field grab for sentimentality the movie hasn’t earned; the credits roll over footage of Bangkok go-gos and a credit for “Stitch the Monkey as Stitch the Monkey,” a fitting conclusion to this very silly movie.

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