Read the full article by Dennis Harvey at Variety.com

An erotic webcam performer’s identity is stolen in this frenetic, intriguing, perhaps deliberately skin-deep paranoid thriller.

In Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei’s paranoid thriller “Cam,” an erotic webcam performer finds her followers stolen by a doppelganger who hijacks her channel, pushes the sexual envelope farther, and otherwise seems determined to destroy her life. Call it identity theft of a sexy, possibly supernatural kind.

There’s not much depth to this low-budget but resourcefully flashy enterprise, which is hyperactive in presentation to the brink of being grating. Nor is there much (if any) satisfactory resolution to the central mystery. But the combination of a sex-worker milieu, suspense mechanics and speed-of-the-internet pace should appeal to genre fans looking for something different — but not too different — from the norm. It certainly worked for Fantasia jurors, who gave the film their best screenplay and first feature prizes, and Netflix buyers, who acquired “Cam” from the Montreal-based genre fest.

In her all-pink home “studio,” Alice aka “Lola” (Madeline Brewer from “The Handmaid’s Tale”) runs the gamut of girlish yet “naughty” behaviors for a long-distance audience of presumably all-male fans. They spur her on — to doff clothes, spank herself, and so forth — by expending “tip” tokens, for which she’s careful to thank them each en route. At the start, one mysterious patron uses that economic clout to dare her into a seemingly suicidal act. But that shocking act turns out to be a theatrical stunt, complete with fake blood. While she’s onstage, so to speak, it seems there are few situations Alice isn’t prepared to take in stride.

Screenwriter Mazzei has labored in the field depicted, and there’s an undeniable fascination in the film’s level of detailed insight into how such prurient (yet generally hands-off) sex work actually operates — as well as how at-odds it often is from its practitioners’ off-cam lives. Brewer’s committed performance etches a very ordinary young woman who may have been drawn to the field for the role-playing assumption of power and control that she’s far from owning elsewhere in her life. In fact, she barely seems to have any outside life. Certainly when her “Lola” identity is stolen, Alice fast becomes a nervous wreck, consumed with getting her preferred self (as well as meal ticket) back.