I absolutely bloody loved this Netflix horror movie and was held in its vice-life grip right until the very end. Sadly, the ending didn’t explain the ‘horror’ part of the film at all, which was disappointing, and there was more than one red herring present in the plot, but I still wouldn’t have missed CAM for all the tea in, well, erm, my local tea-shop, I suppose, seeing as we can’t be non-pc any more, lol.

Madeleine Brewer does a phenomenal job of portraying Alice Ackerman, a beautiful young American woman who makes her living as a sex worker, but from the relative safety and comfort of her own home.

She’s a ‘cam-girl,’ which means that she, in effect, has her own Internet channel on which she performs sex acts or sexy acts or even ordinary acts that she sexes up a bit, and all for the benefit of the (mostly) male viewers who pay her in ‘tips.’

If a guy wants Alice’s online persona, ‘Lola,’ to do something in particular, he’ll up his tips accordingly. It’s all perfectly legal, and camgirls do pay taxes. It’s the guys who tip the girls who can end up losing their shirts, especially if, as in one case I read about, they’re using the company credit card to tip their favourite camgirls…! A clever camgirl can earn her college tuition fees in this way. It has been done.

A camgirl can do anything she likes on her ‘show,’ which will be hosted on a host site, who presumably take a generous share of the girls’ earnings. Lola’s show is hosted by FreeGirlsLive or FGL, and if you have any technical problems, they’re the ones who are supposed to help you fix them. They’re no better or worse than any other tech support helpline, seemingly. (They’re shit.) She talks live to her viewers in what are known as rooms, or chat rooms.

Lola does partial nudity on her show, or she might do things like make guys pay to watch her eat a messy blueberry-filled pie or take a bite out of a steak still running with blood. She might let the viewers ‘share’ her bath or workout routine. She might spank herself, masturbate, or flash her tits or lick/suck something phallic-shaped, all while being tipped ‘live’ as her show is streaming on the host site.

Lola has a collection of kinky sex toys, from handcuffs to vibrators, all ready for active service, and a wardrobe full of sexy little outfits and slutty lingerie. She might do a sex show with another camgirl to give her ratings a bit of a boost. Alice/Lola is obsessed with ratings. She’s super-excited when she gets into the Top 50 of camgirl sites on FGL, and dreams of the day when she might make Number One.

The pressure to keep your ratings up is almost unbearable. If Lola goes offline for a bit to sleep or shop or see family, her ratings drop. It’s like she’s not supposed to have a life outside of the chat rooms. The show has quite literally become her life.

It’s true she’s been able to buy herself a lot of cool stuff since she became a sex worker, such as fancy jewelled phones and gold laptops- so jealous of these!- but, like I said, she lives only for the show and the ratings, which is a bit sad. And there’s always someone else out there who’s going to do better than her, which is soul-destroying.

The pressure to keep things fresh and to keep coming up with new, bigger and better ideas for her show is also pretty exhausting. Lola’s clients have just lately started demanding blood, so she’s had to do a show where she cuts her own throat with a giant Michael Myers knife and a sachet of fake blood. Her ratings go through the roof, but it’s a little disturbing, don’t you think? I mean, where’d’you go from there? How’d’you top that?

She has private online chats with her biggest tippers, and this gives the men the idea that they and Lola are somehow ‘exclusive’ to each other, which can lead to stalking, threats and/or blackmail. You know what guys are like, lol.

She even meets up with some of these guys, allowing them to buy her dinner and give her presents, but, once you start meeting these guys in person, you’re kind of leaving yourself open to all kinds of preconceived notions on the part of the men. I’m buying you dinner, so you owe me, kind of thing.

Anyway, the camgirl part of the movie was fascinating enough on its own, without the film-makers throwing in a horror element as well. This occurs when Alice/Lola discovers herself to be locked out of her own FGL account one day. That’s not the horror bit, haha, but it’s plenty bloody horrifying in its own right. Computer/Internet trouble is the worst.

Anyway, as if this isn’t irritating enough (Tech support! Tech suppooooooooort…!!!), she also discovers the strangest thing. Alice might be offline, but her alter ego Lola, sexy, simpering Lola, is very much online, performing a show from Alice’s very own bathtub and saying and doing all the things that Alice-as-Lola would normally do. What the hell gives…?

The cops are useless pervs. When Alice tries to tell them that someone who looks exactly like her has stolen her identity, one cop says: ‘If you don’t like what you see on the ‘Net, then don’t go online.’ The other cop says: ‘What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to do?’ When Alice tells him she doesn’t have sex with her clients, he replies: ‘That’s a shame…’ Jerks.

Alice is also trying to cope with the fact that her mother has just found that her daughter is a sex worker, and not the web developer Alice was pretending to be. Alice’s younger brother’s mates have all caught her ‘show’ online, and it’s just not a very good time for the Ackerman family all round.

The writer of CAM based her writings on her real-life experiences as a camgirl. It’s the most fascinating new-to-me topic I’ve come across in ages. This is a fantastically slick and stylish film that you’d be nuts not to watch, despite the fact that the horror element sadly falls a little bit flat in the end. I didn’t even really mind too much that that happened, because the camgirl storyline is just so jaw-droppingly gripping. Watch it. It’ll kick off your Halloween viewing nicely.        

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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