An American tourist in Bangkok encounters a mysterious group of web performers harboring a terrible secret
It’s hard to talk about Cam2Cam without feeling like you’re talking about a product of work that’s really two distinct short films, with a smattering of shared actors and have been stitched together by Director Joel Soisson (Piranha 3DD). And there’s good reason for this as our opening kill – the kind of thing we expect from any good slasher where some nameless innocent is butchered – takes up a third of the film. This is not hyperbole. From beginning to end, it lasts about 30 minutes in a 90-minute movie.
Somewhere in Thailand, a fresh-faced, barely dressed woman in a dormitory starts up a sexy camera chat with an equally loosely dressed woman. As the conversation mutates from sexy to salacious to scary, the young woman falls victim to the machinations of a terrifying stalker. Dig deep and you’ll discover that this part is, in fact, a remake of a short, also called Cam2Cam by Davy Sihali, who gets a shout out as a ‘guest director’ in the closing credits. On it’s own it’s a cracking little short, and if I could just talk about that, I would. However, there are another 60 minutes stapled on.
We move into the movie in earnest, presumably Soisson’s bit, with Tammin Sursok (Pretty Little Liars) playing Allie, a young American travelling around Thailand and moving into the same block of dorms from the opening. Not just the same block, but in fact the same room. Not put off by the fact that someone was recently murdered there, she strikes up a friendship with fun time girl, Marit played with a gorgeous accent by Sarah Bonrepaux, who most recently appeared in the XXL segment of ABCs of Death and gives the strongest performance in the film. They frolic, drink and flirt right up until Marit disappears.
Has she become the latest victim of a known serial killer in the area? How is it connected to the online sext chat phenomena known as Cam2Cam? Will Allie crack the case? And why are all the English blokes in this so bloody shifty? If any of this sounds even vaguely intriguing to you, then you’re in for a treat.
However, for everyone else, Cam2Cam is a shambolic effort that fails to be so many different things; giallo; sexploitation; slasher; techno-thriller. At times, Allie even displays the ability to see ghosts, or echoes of bad things that play out like a scene from CSI. We’re never made privy to what these outbursts of paranormal activity are, nor do they go towards solving any and all of the problems she faced. They just happen, which makes you wonder if some great denouement is lying forgotten and forlorn upon someone’s cutting room floor. Though it’s very likely someone just thought it would be ‘kewl, kay?’.
Equally insulting is the usage of Thailand as nothing more than a backdrop that permeates the myth that everyone over there is trying to fleece you or molest you. Frankly, Cam2Cam’s approach to anyone who is not American makes The Hangover Part 2 look freethinking and balanced. When Allie’s real reason for being in Thailand is revealed I couldn’t stop thinking about Big Bad Wolves, a superbly crafted thriller from last year. Then I was sad because I wasn’t watching Big Bad Wolves; I was watching this.
With its fake technobabble going hand in hand with scenes of debauchery and promiscuousness, I have half a mind to think Cam2Cam is actually one of those public morality propaganda tales like Reefer Madness. ‘You better watch out boys and girls when you’re on that there internet, boys and girls’ it seems to say. ‘The Devil gonna get you if you flash your pink bits on them chatrooms, boys and girls. Before you know it, you’re gonna be fishing severed heads out of the Chao Phraya River.’ But then, if that was really the case, the issues such as poorly written dialogue and gaping plot holes would be easier to dismiss.
Taken for what it is, Cam2Cam is hollow, overly glossy hash of a film, that reminds us that the film industry still struggles to understand what the internet actually is.