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Film Review: ‘Cam2Cam’

This sloppy chiller and Internet cautionary tale mixes slasher, sexploitation and supernatural elements.

Tammin Sursok, Ben Wiggins, Sarah Bonrepaux, Jade Tailor, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Kotchanan Grubbmo, Nicky Tamrong,

Those dang Internets are gonna getcha in “Cam2Cam,” a sloppy chiller about tourists falling prey to an online stalker in Bangkok that clumsily mixes slasher, sexploitation and supernatural elements. Given director/scenarist Joel Soisson’s track record of mostly direct-to-video schlock genre sequels, often as a producer, it’s perhaps surprising that his latest is braving a limited theatrical release Aug. 22, simultaneous with its VOD launch. Needless to say, this rather sleazy time-killer will make most of its coin via home formats in most territories.

The first act is basically a straight-up remake of French helmer Davy Sihali’s half-hour 2008 short, which won fans at horror fests worldwide. (Apart from sharing original story credit, Sihali is oddly credited at the end as “guest director,” suggesting creative differences might have arisen at some point during production.) American expat Lucy (Jade Tailor) whiles away an evening at home with a titillating livecam/text chat on the titular XXX website. But when she gets skittish, the exchange abruptly grows threatening. Opening her door to an alleged new upstairs neighbor (Russell Geoffrey Banks) for protection turns out to be a very, very bad idea.

A month later, another comely young Yank, Allie (Tammin Sursok), checks into the same long-term tourist hotel. Getting Lucy’s flat, she susses bad vibes there, not least from a creepy landlord (Nicky Tamrong) and overly pushy buffed Brit boy Michael (Ben Wiggins). But she welcomes the equally flirtatious overtures of Marit (Sarah Bonrepaux), and the two young women spend
a fun day and evening together.

The next morning, Marit is suspiciously hard to get hold of. Having landed here for reasons more purposeful than she’d originally confessed, Allie fears the worst for her new friend — even though by then, the online stalker who’s decapitated several sexy Bangkok visitors has already offed himself.

After a moderately creepy initial section far too protracted for this type of genre prologue, the pic quickly founders on tin-earned dialogue, rudimentary character writing and plotting that feels awfully random. The convoluted eventual explanation brushes off all prior hints of the supernatural while being highly unconvincing in itself, and is followed by an end-credits scene of stripper pole dancing because … well, why not.

This is the kind of movie in which it’s a given that a crazy psycho should sweat profusely just because he’s a crazy psycho. (Admittedly, he wears heavy sweaters in a humid climate, but he still only seems to sweat on crazy-cue.) And in which a bloodied woman walking down a crowded street with an axe in her hand hardly turns heads.

Presumably determined by financing, the pic’s Bangkok setting seems arbitrary, given that all the major characters are foreigners living here for reasons seldom articulated. But it does allow cinematographer Vardhana Wanchuplao to make attractive use of local sights in a tech package that’s better than this material warrants. The actors also try harder, with a tad more skill, than you might expect.

Film Review: 'Cam2Cam'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Aug. 21, 2014. Running time: 91 MIN.

Production: An IFC Midnight release of a Joyplex and Motionpictures Co. presentation. Produced by Raimund Huber, Aki Komine. Executive producer, Chariyawan Tavoranon.

Crew: Directed by Joel Soisson. Screenplay, Soisson, from a story by Davy Sihali, Marie Gaultier. Camera (color, HD), Vardhana Wanchuplao; editor, Philip Mangano; music, Elia Cmiral; music supervisor, Aaron Jacoves; production designer, Wiets Kirsten; sound, Chakhrit Boriboon; sound designer, Kenneth L. Johnson; re-recording mixer, Ken Johnson; assistant director, Gregory T. Eismin; casting, Monika Mikkelsen.

With: Tammin Sursok, Ben Wiggins, Sarah Bonrepaux, Jade Tailor, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Kotchanan Grubbmo, Nicky Tamrong,

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