Cam (2018) Netflix film | My Explanation and Review

Cam (2018) Explanation
Last night while flipping through Netflix (is that how we put it now?), I randomly came across a new Netflix original movie entitled "Cam". With Netflix originals, it's usually super hit or miss — one minute you have a great new Coen Brothers flick, the next you have "How it Ends" (shudder) — so any movie where the director's name is unrecognizable is really a big gamble of your time. Luckily, however, I have no life to speak of and plenty of time to spare. So I went ahead watched this Black Mirror-esque sci-fi, mystery, horror (?) thing. It wasn't too shabby. Apparently, though, a lot of people seemed to be confused by it, so below is a brief synopsis, my thoughts, and my personal opinion on the ending and what it all meant.

What's it about?
IMDb's shorthand of what this movie is
In a nutshell, the movie boils down to being about a "cam girl" (incidentally, it's also written by an ex-cam girl) who has her identity stolen. But this isn't your normal "somebody hacked into my account" type of identity theft. This is something much weirder. Much deeper. Much more, well, literal. It's very Twilight Zoney. But before we get into that, let's explain what we're talking about for all you innocent n( . )( . )bs out there.

A cam girl is one of those ladies on the internet who make their living by putting on seductive live shows (sometimes hardcore, sometimes softcore) on webcam for lonely and/or horny fellas who have money to spend. The cam girl in question, in this movie, is an up and coming performer named Alice (stage name: Lola), who puts on regular shows and has a dedicated amount of followers that appear to be steadily growing.

One day, seemingly out of nowhere, Alice finds herself locked out of her Lola account. And when she takes a gander at her profile name, she's shocked to see that it says she's online and performing right now. How could this be? I'M Lola! She wonders. It must be some kind of mistake.

Has someone hacked into her Lola channel? Is there a glitch in the system? Alice clicks to watch and find out. What happens next absolutely terrifies her: Doing a live performance on her channel, she sees none other than a girl who looks exactly like her, talks exactly like her, claims to be her, and appears to even be performing in the same room as her. No, it's not a replay. The website doesn't even do replays. Plus, this girl is carrying on conversations with the live chat. This is happening right now.

Wtf? Is there something supernatural going on here? Is it a parallel dimension? Is it a trick? Clever makeup? Or something else?

My thoughts and explanation of the ending (SPOILERS)
Reenactment of me tinkering around with theories
When the end of this movie came, it was pretty confusing and ambiguous to most (judging by the forums I visited, at least). It was one of those movies that lured you in and kept you watching by making you want answers, then, in pure LOST fashion, didn't seem to pay off on that expectation whatsoever. Or that's how it seems, at least. Another possibility is that maybe the answers were there all along and we were just meant to put the pieces together for ourselves. The latter is where I've put my money. And, as the title of this blog post suggests, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

*Ahem*

As I've already implied, not many mysteries are directly answered. The most we get is information about how Alice isn't the only cam girl whose identity has been stolen; some timid, cam girl addicted stalker, named Tinker, is aware that this has been happening (and can apparently predict who the next victims are going to be); and, through some clever investigating, Alice also finds that at least one of the other victims happens to have died (it's unclear as to whether this occurred before or after their identity was stolen).

Who are the doppelgangers?
Alice and Baby's digital copies in a digital reconstruction of Alice's house, seen from real Alice's laptop

My idea is that the Lola doppelganger (and all the other doppelgangers) is merely a CGI copy (S1m0ne-esque, if you remember that crumby movie) automatically designed by an algorithm of some sort, as opposed to an actual, living person. As Tinker says earlier in the film, this algorithm probably compiles all of her online information in order to achieve this mimicry. Information such as the archived audio and video footage taken from the sex website (which, as stated in the movie, the website owns), her chat records (which appeared to be immense), and maybe even her personal photos and info from her social media accounts and the like (which would explain the copies knowledge of Alice's brother, for instance, and the layout of her house). Undoubtedly, if true, this is also likely meant to be some sort of commentary on how f'd up it is how much of our personal lives and information is up for grabs online.

The copy not actually being a real person seems to be supported by the fact that she doesn't recognize her own face when Alice is looking right at her and talking to her, she doesn't appear to notice when people in the sex chat are talking about them looking like identical twins, the constant glitching of the camera during her shows, how the copy is stupidly tricked into giving out its account password (a victim of a programming loophole), and, of course, when Alice bashes her face into the desk and an obviously computer generated blood splatter appears on the copies face.

But what about the dead girl?
Hannah "Baby" Darin's obituary
My guess is that whoever designed this algorithm isn't killing girls. If they were, then why didn't they come after Alice? No. Instead, I'm thinking the algorithm is copying all the girls ahead of time, then only going into effect once it becomes aware of one's death (in order to continue generating income from their likeness). The reason Alice's digital doppelganger may have prematurely taken over could be due to Alice's mock suicide, when she pretended to cut her own throat at the beginning of the film. The pre-programmed algorithm perhaps saw that, thought she had really died, and went about its normal copying-dead-girls routine. In a sense, it's a bit reminiscent to when 2001: A Space Odyssey's Hal received unexpected input that conflicted with his programming, thus resulting in tragedy when the computer struggled to work things out.

So who is the bad guy?
It could potentially be the sex websites themselves (as Tinker says, this copying is a common occurrence on various different cam sites), or it could be a tech-savvy outsider who put the algorithm together. Whatever the case, I'm inclined not to believe that the perpetrator was watching or actively involved once the algorithms went into effect. Like a deist god, it feels more likely that they simply put things together and walked away (reaping the financial benefits with an automatic transaction).

The reason I think this is because a real person (directly involved and observing) would realize that Alice's suicide wasn't real. They'd either know better than to set the algorithm into effect or, at the very least, would eventually catch onto their mistake, realize that Alice is onto their scam, and either shut the operation down or get rid of Alice herself. Yet none of this happened. No one interfered with anything. And, in the end, the doppelganger was even taken advantage of in the most obvious way (no real person would be so easily duped into giving out their account password).

Where does my theory fall flat? (The Tinker conundrum)
The Tinker Conundrum
The only part about this that really throws me for a loop is Tinker's apparent foreknowledge about how this copying happens. If we take his word for it, that means he can apparently figure out ahead of time when a girl is about to be copied and replaced. And if he can tell a girl is going to be copied before she dies, this can only mean that:

A.) Whoever is doing this knows the copied girl is going to die. Baby died in a random car accident, however, so the only way to foresee her death would be if someone planned the crash ahead of time. And if this is the case, that means we have a murderer on our hands. But, as mentioned earlier, if there's a murderer... why wouldn't they attempt to kill Alice, as well?

B.) Deaths have nothing to do with the copying and replacing. This at least makes sense than point A, as the only real death we know about is Baby's. I don't recall us ever learning about the fate of the other copied girls, and my theory about Alice's suicide having triggered her doppelganger is simply that an idea that I came up with on my own.

C.) Tinker is somehow involved in the situation.

D.) Tinker is lying about knowing about the doppelgangers (perhaps in order to ingratiate himself to Alice and make a connection with her).

E.) Tinker isn't lying about knowing about the doppelgangers, but is mistaken about figuring it out before it happens. Instead, perhaps he's only realizing the personality change after it's already occurred.

F.) Every single idea I've had so far is complete and utter hogwash.

Until we have anything more concrete, or someone comes along with a better theory, I suppose I'm content with my conclusion for now (I suppose I'll have to opt with either point D or E, in regards to the Tinker Conundrum). Either way, it's fun to think about this stuff.

This kinda mindfuckery is why I love movies.

Would I recommend it?

First of all, don't let my Black Mirror comparison throw you off. While the weird mystery/technology gone awry aspects are similar to that legendary show, this movie was nowhere near that caliber of good. That being said, it wasn't terrible either. And its mystery managed to keep me intrigued enough to hook me to the end. So, as far as my recommendations go, I'd say it's worth a watch if you have the time to spare, but it's nothing to go outta your way to find. Unless, of course, you're just a particularly big fan of this kind of weird story... which I totally am.

No comments:

Post a Comment