14 Jun 2022
Steph Du Melo
Steph Du Melo
Charlotte Curwood, Tom Ware, Jamie Langlands, Michael Swatton
1999. That was the year ‘The Blair Witch Project’ came out and changed the horror genre. It introduced ‘found footage’ to the masses - though the concept had long been common in literature, notably ‘The Castle of Otranto’. The unfortunate side effect of the film was the sudden emergence of millions of little, found-footage productions, all vying to be the next ‘Blair Witch’. ‘C.A.M’ is one of those films - lousily produced, lacking real horror, sub-par performances - but it’s also more than a little insensitive.
2020. That was the year that the world shut down. As the coronavirus pandemic hit we were all asked to remain indoors and stay away from our friends and family. The lockdown measures continued in many areas into, and throughout, 2021 - it’s little wonder therefore that there would be a host of films centred on viruses and pandemics. ‘C.A.M’ is one such film, exploiting the pandemic situation and people’s fears around it as the only way of generating terror in the audience.
The film claims that its footage was found in 2013, documenting the start of a deadly new virus. A trainee tactical police unit, coincidentally wth a civilian camera crew, is sent to evacuate the workers of a meat processing plant where the virus is believed to have started. The infected workers are discovered to be displaying extreme violent behaviour, and they begin to realise the potential consequences should the virus spread.
The sections of found footage are interspersed with an ‘interview’ between an unknown medical worker and an unnamed Alt-Media Interviewer, and a PowerPoint slide informing us of where they are and what’s going on. This structure doesn’t help the story in the slightest. Should the film focus solely on the found footage section it would illicit moments of fear and would maintain the suspense throughout, rather than killing any tension with a poorly acted phoney interview which adds little to the story. The corny PowerPoint slides in-between further remove the fear of the unknown - humanity’s greatest fear - from the equation.
‘C.A.M’ also suffers from a bizarre tone and inconsistent character emotions. It is intent on maintaining an almost mournful stance in the interviews but then becomes more jovial in the found-footage itself, meaning that you’re jumping around from the atmosphere of a funeral to that of a birthday party.
With found-footage films, it is essential that the script (which you must remember is allegedly non-existent) is tight. These films tend to have actors of a lower quality - you’re not likely to see Leonardo DiCaprio in a found-footage anytime soon. Unfortunately, ‘C.A.M’ has a script which puts its actors (who aren’t the best to begin with) in an unenviable position. The whole premise of found-footage is that the dialogue mirrors that of everyday life; every word of ‘C.A.M’ feels strained, as though made by an A.I. still trying to adapt to the English language.
‘C.A.M’ is a complete mess. It doesn’t do what it should do - inspire terror - falling well short of the mark, at times coming off as a parody. That illusion is let down by its morbid tone in the interview, which only confuses where it should clarify. To add insult to injury - it’s insensitive and, especially at times like these, spreads a conspiracy theory which is extremely dangerous.