CAM, a new horror film centred around a cam girl challenges the portrayal of the sex work in the movie scene.
It seems a certain stigma has developed in relation to sex workers in horror films where such characters are constantly portrayed as damsels in distress who needs to be rescued from the conditions of their job. This ideal has led to many perceiving the profession in a negative light and seeing it as something that these women need to be saved from.
Contrary to this popular portrayal however, Isa Mazzei believes it is anything but. Mazzei, the director of CAM and a sex worker herself, wanted to change this perception through her latest project.
In her new horror film, the problem the protagonist, who is a cam girl on a porn live streaming site, faces is unrelated to the industry she is working in. Although her occupation plays a significant role in the narrative of the film, it isn’t what causes the complications within her story.
The problem in the film is due to the theft of the protagonist’s privacy and identity, something that she loses unwillingly. Alice, who is known as “Lola” in the cam world, is suddenly locked out of her account. Her world turns upside down when a digital doppelgänger takes over her online persona and gradually, her offline reality.
By showcasing such a problematic topic (that being sex work) but managing to avoid portraying the profession in a negative light, Mazzei hopes to educate the audience on the reality of the industry.
Speaking from personal experience, Mazzei describes the job as empowering rather than degrading, which is how it is usually portrayed in films. “As a sexual assault survivor and who gets catcalled in the street, harassed in bars and grabbed against my consent, sex work was a place where I felt I had full control over my body” she revealed in a DAZED interview.
Mazzei believes the stigma stems from the lack of accurate representation of the sex work industry which is what she hopes to eliminate through CAM. Through this film, she aims to show the side of the industry that is constantly ignored, the side that shows that this is a job that people choose to do.
Choice, or lack thereof, is a huge theme in CAM. What makes the film scary is the lack of agency or lack of control the protagonist has when her identity is stolen from her. Equally as important, what makes the film different is that this lack of control is in no way connected to her line of profession which is something she takes part in willingly.
The film’s unique concept, accompanied with its lush and vibrant cinematography, lures audiences into the story and leaves them questioning their pre-conceived ideals towards the world of sex workers.
Let us know if you’ve seen this film and what you thought of it in the comments!