Cam2Cam initially comes on like a debauched thriller that intends to revel in the cold, hard pleasures of sexual commercialization. The actors’ body parts—glossy lips, shapely breasts, round butts, and slim and trim abs—are so pointedly fetishized that you’re primed to assume that a punchline is being consciously prepared for. This atmosphere of heightened exploitation is exasperated by the Bangkok setting, which is presented by the filmmakers in a typical genre fashion that luridly emphasizes neon lights, grungy landlords, and killer pimps. It’s a potentially promising fusion of aesthetic with story, which, in this case, follows a pair of young women who get enmeshed in a net of Web performers who like to turn the tables on their voyeuristic clientele. Director Joel Soisson appears to be linking the social disconnection that’s fostered by an increasingly obsessive online culture with the global commodification of flesh for reasons that are thematically murky but potentially resonant and even puckishly, ghoulishly amusing. His early images daringly render exploitation attractive, implying that many people emboldened by the narcissism of the Internet culture dream of being whores. They’re envisioning that existence, perversely, as a manifestation of stardom, with no empathetic accounting for the actual dimensions of true, inescapable subjugation.
But this read is soon proven to be incidental or even plain delusional. The promising first act, an effectively self-contained game of cat and mouse, paves the way for an increasingly tedious murder mystery that revels in the tired device of killing off characters just as they appear to be assuming prominence in the narrative as either the hero or the big bad. This happens so often it becomes unintentionally laughable. This shock tactic’s recurrence also logically means that the film’s always essentially starting all over again, spinning in a narrative repeat cycle in which an expositional pause is followed by a chase, which is followed by a murder, which is followed by more exposition, and so forth. Eventually, only two characters remain so as to elucidate on a conspiracy that’s disappointingly proven to be beside the point anyway. (Spoilers herein.) Almost everyone’s revealed to be a killer, which is to say that nothing’s at stake and that there was nothing really to “solve” to begin with. Lost in this barely coherent and clichéd hugger-mugger is the initial killer-website conceit and the attending erotic dread, which is retrospectively revealed to be an illusory siren call.