Film: Cam 2 Cam / Darknet / Pervs on the internet [depends which country you’re in]
Setting: Bangkok, Thailand
Cast: American woman [Tammin Sursok], French woman [Sarah Bonrepaux], British man [Ben Wiggins], Thai pervert
Director: Ex Pat [Joel Soisson]
Plot: An American woman with big calves and backpack checks into a shitty Bangkok apartment. Someone tells her a girl got her head cut off in the same apartment a few weeks earlier and she doesn’t even blink. After looking at some of the slum buildings outside, she logs onto a sleazy website recommended to her by a French woman staying in the same block. Sleazy things happen, but not to her, she just watches. Some people die. Is the website cursed? Or is it just a guy pretending to be a woman and stalking gullible prey?
Subplot: A Thai hotel manager ignores the mounting bills and failing economy by sleeping 23/7 on a chair in his office. To make the hour he’s awake bearable he breaks into the apartments and feels up the guests.
Note: Make sure you’ve seen the film before you read this, because I will talk about pretty much everything.
Is the internet scary?
It can be. After all, you never know who’s really hiding behind that Hugh Jackman avatar.
Are the people behind the Hugh Jackman avatars scary?
No, not really, because they’re human.
I’ve said this before and I still believe it’s true. Take the mask or the anonymity away from the killer and you’re cutting the legs off your horror film.
Cam 2 Cam does this in the first fifteen minutes – a woman [alone in a Bangkok apartment] talks to what she thinks is a woman online. She is goaded into turning on her cam, does so, but doesn’t do anything else. The other woman starts stripping to get her in the mood, never showing her face, and continues typing even though she’s apparently stripping. Suspicious, the woman shuts down the conversation and pulls the screen of her laptop down, as if that will make a difference. Then there’s a knock at the door and…it’s the friendly, sweaty pervert from upstairs, who turns out to be the stripper, and further turns out to be out of his fucking tree.
As soon as this guy turns nuts without wearing a mask, the horror dissipates. He’s just another killer, who you can hit over the head with a bottle and run away from…he’s not even bulky, just tall and thin.
Not to say the opening isn’t good, it’s actually quite tense and gripping…I’m simply judging it by its horror tag, and the moment the killer is revealed, I relaxed because I knew a] the threat was visible, and b] she was about to die.
I just wished they hadn’t shown the killer to be human. At least give him a mask.
The people in Hostel are quite scary…
Are they? The system is the real villain of that film, the human killers are just chess pieces. You wouldn’t want to be tied to a chair in the same room as them, but they’re still killable and familiar, whereas the system behind the business is almost intangible, which makes it just like Freddy or Sadako or Chad Lowe.
Back to Thailand…
So, next scene after the opening kill, the main character arrives, an American woman, and checks into the same apartment as the woman who just got her head chopped off.
She walks around with a French woman outside, and is followed by the guy we know is the killer. He starts sweating a lot because he’s wearing a jacket in Thailand, gets seen by the police, chased around a market and then kills himself by stepping in front of a truck.
I did not see that coming.
Cam 2 Cam is quite good in this respect. It doesn’t always go where you think it will, though it always keeps the horror at bay by making the killers human and maskless. It plays more like a thriller, really.
Most of the cast seem to be female…
Yup, they are. The main character is quite well sketched…determined, alienated, resourceful, doesn’t get naked…and the French woman adds an extra layer to her typical femme fatale role…that layer being a genuine bond with the main character that compels her to deliver her dead sister’s head in a box at the end, with the note ‘I hope this will give you some peace.’ It’s an odd touch, but I think the French woman genuinely means it in an affectionate way.
What about the men?
The British guy who hangs out by the pool is okay, and the initial killer doesn’t get much to do beyond the opening scene…he just walks around the market in his jacket, sweating a lot [though he does get a great moment where he takes off his jacket for the police and pulls out two hatchets – the guy is quite memorable, despite being human]. The manager of the hotel is a pervert who naps most of the movie. I think that’s all of them. Most of the characters in this are bi-sexual actually, especially the women. Literally all of the women are, now I think about it a little deeper. There might be a reason for it, I don’t know. I hope it’s not ‘you’re bisexual, so you’re going to die’. I don’t think it is.
Is there any real reason for it to be set in Thailand?
Not really. The titular website is available in other countries as well as Thailand, so the only reason they put it in Bangkok was probably because the director lives there and thought it would be different from the usual American locations.
It’s probably a smart move, as it does isolate the main character, more than it would if she knew the city she was in. Though they don’t make anything of the language barrier, which is a wasted opportunity.
Any parts that don’t make sense?
Yup, two that I can think of.
One, the main character walks through a drinking hub in Bangkok, covered in blood and carrying a hatchet…then a few hours later turns up at a temple on the other side of the city. Apparently, the entire Bangkok police force was somewhere else.
Two, the British pool guy takes the main character to a secret shack by the river, tells her the heads of all the dead people are in the water, stands over her while she checks, talks a lot about not being able to handle prison and then suddenly tries to drown her. You could say this kind of dramatic character pivot makes sense on some level, but it’s not in any way convincing.
What about the French woman?
Not really a plot hole, but if your whole film hinges on the charisma and desirability of a certain character, you better make sure she’s actually charming. Having huge tits bursting out of a tight top is not enough. Telling bad jokes and then saying ‘ha, I have a sick sense of humour’ also doesn’t help. I suppose she is sexy, so you can accept that some characters would like to jump into bed with her, but they wouldn’t be hanging around long the morning after. Honestly, the hotel manager who sleeps/sleazes through most of the movie gets better dialogue than she does*. Not really the fault of the actress, she looks the part and acts okay, more the dialogue.
* he doesn’t really.
Not really. Despite not being scary, it’s a decent film, and surprising in places, but it doesn’t do enough with its main story idea i.e. you never know who or what you are talking to online to really qualify as a decent horror. The internet is almost supernatural when you think about it, as in it’s not a physical place, so the potential is there for something not human to infiltrate it and stalk people…like that episode of Buffy where the ancient book got scanned into the online library and the demon got scanned with it…but this film chooses to take the ‘manipulative sociopath runs the website’ path instead. It’s still entertaining, and I wasn’t ever bored, but it’s definitely a thriller with scenes shot like a horror, more than an actual horror.
Conclusion: if you do make your killer human, you should at least make sure they wear a mask. There’s nothing scary about a sweaty British man who shouts sometimes.