I suppose some props should be given to debuting writer-director
Robert Gaston for attempting to do something slightly different in
gay cinema. OPEN CAM, ostensibly a thriller with a lot of eye candy.
Unfortunately, as befitting a low-budget effort, the production quality
is poor, the acting amateurish and the screenplay full of more holes
than a slice of Swiss cheese.
The movie opens with a good-looking young man viewing an
Internet porn website where guys use webcams to display themselves.
It turns out that this is our hero, an artist named Manny (Andreau
Thomas). He's running late for a weekly brunch with his buddies.
On the way home, he and his ex-lover now friend Maurice (Ben Green)
are carjacked. Maurice goes ballistic and strikes back, injuring one of
the thieves. One of the cops who arrives on the scene, Hamilton (Amir
Darvish, the only real professional actor in the cast, and it shows),
takes Manny aside. After some perfunctory questions, the cop makes
a pass at Manny, takes him to an alley and offers his services.
It should be noted that Hamilton is wearing a wedding ring, although
he claims that he's separated or divorced and the ring is stuck.
Manny heads home and logs into the Internet chat room and
hooks up with a guy who later turns up dead. That his murder is
broadcast and captured live on the website is only one of the plot
points that is unbelievable. If such a thing were ever to happen,
that site would be shut down immediately, not allowed to continue
to operate as it is in the film. If it weren't, the title of the movie
would make no sense, since at least one other victim's death gets
The common element to the murders is Manny. The victims
are all sex partners of his but he clearly isn't the prime suspect.
That lucky designation falls to Maurice, who has some issues with
having been dumped by Manny despite the attempt to remain friends.
Detective Hamilton offers himself as bait, agreeing to pose as
Manny's new boyfriend and the pair develop a rapport that leads
to sex. It also flushes out the real killer.
Gaston has a good idea for a film, but the execution is
terrible. Part of the problem is that the actors are not terribly
good, although he undoubtedly cast them for their hot bodies and
their willingness to doff their clothes. There are two extended sex
scenes that border on soft core porn.
The murders recall those depicted in the controversial 1980
film CRUISING and like Al Pacino in that movie, Dervish's policeman
gets a little too into his undercover role.
I'm not entirely sure what Gaston was attempting to do with
this film. Create a cautionary, allegorical tale about AIDS, sexual
practices and Internet chat rooms? Make a straight out thriller?
Very little in OPEN CAM makes sense, including the film's
coda which negates a great deal of the main story. Even the setting
of Washington, DC, appears to be bogus. Despite some passing
references in the dialogue, the film easily could have been shot
in any large city. Viewers unfamiliar with the nation's capital would
be hard pressed to believe the action unfolds there.
I'd like to be able to encourage neophyte filmmakers, but
when this film just doesn't cut it. For a really terrific gay-themed
thriller, keep an eye out for Lou Peterson's IN THE BLOOD. As for
OPEN CAM, rent it at your own peril.
MPAA Rating: NONE
Running time: 100 mins.
Viewed on DVD from Netflix
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.