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  Cam2Cam Chat room chiller
Year: 2014
Director: Joel Soisson
Stars: Tammin Sursok, Ben Wiggins, Sarah Bonrepaux, Jade Tailor, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Alessa Aichinger, Ludovic Coutaud, Brett Olsen, Fabian Starr, Kevin Sumethasorn, Vincent van Ommen, Jenna Z. Wilson
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: American backpacker Lucy (Jade Tailor) is in a rented room in Bangkok sharing a web-cam chat with her friend Emily who starts stripping off and wants her to do the same. It takes a stupidly long time before Lucy questions why Emily is able to strip and type at the same time. By then it's too late. Creepy Brit Russell (Russell Geoffrey Banks) sneaks into the room, forces Lucy to disrobe on camera then chops her head off with an axe. Some time later, Allie Westbrook (Tammin Sursok) arrives in Thailand and rents the same room where Lucy was killed. Although wary of the other, rather smarmy residents, Allie is quickly enamoured with the sassy, highly seductive Marit (Sarah Bonrepaux) who whisks her on a whistlestop tour of Bangkok's seedy delights. Realizing Allie is short on cash, Marit suggests she log on to a website called "Cam2Cam" where hot young tourists can earn money doing sexy stuff online. Even though Allie balks at joining in, after visiting the site her laptop gets hacked and starts web-casting footage of her in bed. Then Marit disappears, Russell throws himself in front of a speeding car and Allie is drawn into a web of intrigue and murder.

Cam2Cam starts with a promising premise then rapidly degenerates into incoherence as a result of sluggish storytelling and an unfocused screenplay. It is a feature length elaboration on a French short film. Made by up-and-comer Davy Sihali back in 2008 the original was well received on the horror festival circuit. Sihali is credited as 'guest director' here but the bulk of the film was helmed by Joel Soisson, active as a producer since the mid-Eighties mostly on direct-to-video horror fare although the likes of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), The Prophecy (1995) and Piranha 3DD (2012) rank among his more notable output. Originating with the paradise lost themes of Danny Boyle's Alex Garland adaptation The Beach (2000) the past fifteen years or so have seen the rise of faintly xenophobic horror thrillers like Hostel (2005) and Turistas (2006) where sexy young tourists seeking sun, sex and spirituality find only dismemberment and death. Cam2Cam goes one step further, doubling as yet another cautionary warning about the evils of chat rooms, cyber-sex and baring your boobs online. In this instance the plot is a lot less scary than the characters' shockingly poor grammar. Never mind loose morals, some of these dummies deserve to die for being too lazy to type 'anybody', 'around' and 'fantasy' instead of 'anybdy', 'arnd' and 'fnsty.'

As always the problem with films like these is a hypocritical tendency to take advantage of liberal sensibilities whilst preaching a conservative message. The opening scene is more unpleasant than suspenseful with Lucy snivelling in fear while a sneering Russell berates, humiliates and eventually decapitates her. Hey, serves you right pretty girl, you were dumb enough to get naked online is the implied, hypocritical message which arrives immediately after the film invites viewers to gawp. However, Cam2Cam is too inept to even function as a one-dimensional morality play. It needlessly takes one hour to establish that (spoiler warning!) Allie is Lucy's sister trying to find out why she was killed and what the killer did with her head. Rather than further the plot Soisson wastes screen time on charmless, self-involved minor characters outlining nauseating philosophies (with howlingly bad dialogue like: "Oral secrets stay buried forever.") and a less than flattering vision of Bangkok as full of dirt, sleaze, dodgy food and even dodgier people especially backpackers.

The film does capture the more colourful tourist friendly side of Thailand too as the, curiously un-credited cinematographer, takes advantage of the digital format to produce some striking visuals. Other positives include a solid lead in Tammin Sursok, one of the stars of teen TV drama Pretty Little Liars and a long way away from her role in the Nickelodeon musical comedy Spectacular! (2009). To their credit Sihali and co-screenwriter Marie Gautier have written Allie as a pleasingly smart, proactive heroine. Someone who chases rather than being chased. Also worth singling out is French actress Sarah Bonrepaux who is decidedly alluring and charismatic as Marit even though the film never really makes the most of either character. Overheated to the point of camp the film stumbles badly throughout its third act where an ax-wielding Allie pursues an over-acting lady-boy through the pink neon streets of Bangkok (although, unlike the poster, not clad solely in her panties) for no good reason before a denouement both predictable and nonsensical and certainly nowhere as profound as it thinks it is.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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