Written and directed by Steph Du Melo, co-directed by Larry Downing, a rare parasite has contaminated a local meat processing plant and tactical police are sent in, but all is not what it appears. Starring: Charlotte Curwood, Tom Ware, Jamie Langlands, Michael Swatton, Peter Rayfield, Daniel Jeary, David Stopp, Robert Daniel Kolscar and Roger Wyatt.
Given the world that we live in today, there are a genuine myriad of political implications that you could pull from this story but diving into all of that would simply take the fun out of C.A.M.. Found footage films are about embracing their chaotic and fractured nature, putting the pieces together to discover a terrifying ordeal and that’s what you get here. The only one aspect that takes away from it, is the unnecessary title cards detailing the movements from scene to scene, giving off a certain lack of confidence which is unwarranted in this case. Ignoring those, there’s a story à la The Blair Witch Project and REC with a touch of 28 Days Later, of unknowing innocents walking into death and mayhem. The broken footage, pale and dullened hue to the cinematography and intentionally harsh editing are all hugely reminiscent of those films but still manage to forge their own path. Ironically, it’s at its best when things are utterly messy, the moments where it slows down and takes a breath are less gripping.
However, when the films switches to moments of its interviewer character, learning of these horrifying events, the quality slips. There’s an unfortunate use of graphics which, like the title cards, are entirely unnecessary and instead of adding perspective to the situation, create a separation which slows down the pace. Those two quite different styles don’t meld together, so when cut together with the found footage, they undermine one another. Whereas many films go too heavy on the violence and shock, Du Melo and Downing actually play it quite restrained, it might have even been more satisfying to see them press the gore button a little bit more, to lean into the fearful atmosphere that they build.
On the writing side, along with the acting, there is more room for improvement. The filmmaker character of Kyle (Ware) is unusually easy going, and doesn’t take much into account the inherent danger of the situation, which holds things back. Similarly in slower, emotive moments, some of the cast struggle to keep it convincing, versus the great job they do with the faster pace. There’s also a few clumsy choices with the dialogue, they’re not necessarily hugely problematic but for instance, some could take offence to the comparisons made to AIDs, Bipolar disorder and other conditions. The story itself works better without too much dialogue, the suspense and fear have a better hold on the tone when it’s fervently moving forward. It also makes a few unusual choices to end on, which feel completely separate from the rest of the film, taking a huge leap into different territory and creating something superfluous to the story.
C.A.M. is a good addition to the found footage genre, but there are a few choices which sadly undercut the quality and feel like it needed more confidence. It has a solid atmosphere and personality, it feeds into the usual carnage and chaos that you’d expect, there’s a smidge of violence but not so much as to put off the more sensitive viewers. Its entire style may not work as one symbiotic machine but there’s plenty to keep you entertained.