“Please. You need to do something. This is my life. This is my job.” Frantic and desperate, Alice begs policemen to track down whomever has stolen her camgirl account and online persona as “Lola”. After slyly expressing “it’s a shame” Alice does not engage in sexual activity with her clients in real-life, the officers tell her “if you don’t want to see stuff like this, then stay off the internet.”
This is just one relatable example of accusatory sex-shaming women, especially sex workers, face on a daily basis. Director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei further explore the notion of agency and freedom of sexual expression through their sex-positive horror film, Cam. While many genre films utilize sex workers to drive the plot forward by killing them off in the first act, Cam enables audiences to empathize with Alice as she fights to take back her stigmatized, although chosen and loved, profession.
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Netflix recently premiered its newest hit horror film, Cam. A festival favorite that earned a seal of approval from Stephen King, the film follows a cam girl named Lola, whose identity and account has been hijacked by a doppelgänger. Fighting to recover her online persona, she must navigate exposure to her family, obsessive male viewers, and judgmental authorities to reclaim her chosen profession.
The use of doppelgängers shines either a dreamy or dismal kaleidoscopic depiction of one’s identity through the self’s exploration, preservation, or destruction all within a duplicated projection of an individual. While the concept of duality is stereotypically explored with themes revolving around good versus evil, Cam utilizes a doppelgänger to challenge societal norms, specifically concerning females and sex industry workers. For women, social conventions focusing on appearance, sexuality, and demeanor warrant the use of a paradoxical double in film: the need to be attractive, to be submissive, to be modest, to be a mother, and to be both fragile and durable simultaneously.
In Cam, director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei (a former camgirl model herself) subvert these feminine ideals and sexual stigmas in a uniquely bold and badass style. To celebrate such a killer sex-positive and feminist thriller, I’ve compiled five other impactful films within a feminine doppelgänger paradigm.
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“Is there anything we can do?” His words tremble as officer Funes stands bleeding, quickly losing his grasp on reality in front of a paranormal investigator. As quickly as the word “no” escapes her lips, a monstrous hand violently reaches out from the wall and breaks her neck.
It’s this kind of hopelessness, fear, and quick shock value that drives director Demián Rugna’s film, Terrified, full-throttle with its viciousness. Utilizing a group narrative structure that translates as an urban legend filled with multiple supernatural encounters, Terrified is an astute addition to the horror genre that strategically plays with tropes like a seasoned puppet master.
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Late at night, distraught, and coldly standing over the crib, Reed stares down at his baby girl while firmly gripping the ice-pick behind his back when he suddenly hears his wife calling him to bed. This opening scene exemplifies director Nicolas Pesce’s ability to draw an audience in and immediately set an unnerving tone. His debut film, The Eyes of My Mother, is an eerie black-and-white horror story filled with depravity and disturbing imagery that, like the anti-hero’s surgical knife, cuts deep into the comfort zones of an audience with razor-sharp precision. Inspired by the novel written by Ryû Murakami (author of Audition), Piercing takes a different approach by combining elements of horror and black comedy to deliver a macabre story about trauma as a catalyst for murder.
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Describing his time in Auschwitz, Jewish chemist and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi stated: “monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” The line between man and monster is obscure and when a person is a witness to wrongdoing, their reactions reveal their true character.
Filled with supernatural folklore and social realism, Danish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi tackles the constructs of monsters and morality in his new film, Border.
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“If there is no one there to hear the falling rain in the garden, what sound does it make?” “If there’s nothing, it could be anything.” This is Etta’s response to a philosophical question pertaining to the manipulation and dangers experienced from sound– a concept that is deviantly explored in Shudder’s upcoming series, Deadwax. Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the ‘70s where people demonized backmasking, a technique for playing the record backwards to reveal hidden messages, Shudder provides its own spin that will make audiences want to turn the volume way up. Read More »
“She secretly likes the attention.” “If she didn’t want it, why would she dress that way?” “She should have known this would happen.” “Why won’t she just leave?” You don’t have to be a female to hear these kinds of statements and questions. Although, if you identify as a female, you probably hear them often. The mentality behind systemic rape culture and victim blaming is a dizzying conversation that is slowly but surely coming into focus both in the news and in art. While stories of trauma and abuse can be displayed through a dark, dingy lens, Danish writer-director Isabella Eklöf addresses these horrors with a brightly stylish world of violence and luxury in her new film, Holiday. Read More »
In order to properly understand the overall tone and style of writer/director Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, one must first address its setting: 1977 Berlin, during which a series of violent events occurred that became known as “The German Autumn.” An insurgent group called the Red Army Faction partook in a series of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, bank robberies, and shootouts with the local police force. They raged a revolutionary war against the West German government with an anti-fascist and anti-imperialism ideology.
Another notable event in 1977 – Dario Argento released the original Suspiria.
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Stepping out of his signature style of riveting action-thrillers, Gareth Evans delivers a delightfully diabolic tale centered around a religious cult in his new film, Apostle. The Welsh filmmaker is known primarily for his fight choreography by way of Indonesian martial arts, yet he presents audiences a slower, more atmospheric horror story filled with a menacing score that supports the brutal mentality and withered imagery of the early 1900s. Read More »
Wrinkled and pale, the face of a woman stares into the camera as she lay lifeless on her pillow, her young daughter calmly watching from a chair in the corner. This is the introductory shot of director Richard Shepard’s The Perfection. An immediate glimpse into the twisted and traumatic story that tackles notions of PTSD, Shepard delivers a bold feature that keeps audiences vividly engaged throughout. Read More »