JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Open Cam (Director/Writer: Robert Gaston) - May 21, 2006
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Open Cam

2 2
101 min.

Reviewed for the 2006 Inside Out Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival
To porn or not to porn

In Robert Gaston’s OpenCam, “gay thriller” takes on a double meaning but neither lives up to its promise.

For many, the thrill of observing a variety of erections being strutted and stroked by a variety of headless men in the privacy of a Washington, D.C. queer chatroom will deliver a rating of two, er, thumbs up. Others will savour the “Who dun it?” script as the body count rises as does the man heat between the probable next victim, Manny (Andreau Thomas, screen name “Just watching”) who is under the very personal protection of Detective Hamilton (Amir Darvish).

Sadly, Gaston’s predictable, cliché-rich script, which overflows with uninspired dialogue (Q: “How’d he die?” A: “He was killed [the same way].”), lacks any notion of tension and before you can say “turn down the sound,” the penis parade drops previously attentive members far below half mast.

The premise is fine. Who hasn’t wondered/fantasized about serial acts of sex and violence when surfing the world of cam-sex with its alluring exhibitionism and anonymous identity? Of course, the murders are captured in digital format, but the clever perpetrator ensures that only his leather jacket and denims are caught by the lens—narrowing the suspect list considerably!

Manny’s buds Maury, (Ben Green), Conrad (J. Matthew Miller) and Chris (Christian Jones) provide further visual relief and plot development. (Is the killer amongst them, or are they just decoys for the Bush-lampooning artist—one dick no one wants to see: real or airbrushed—who puts headshots of his exes to canvas even as they drop dead in cyberspace?)

Darvish, the dick, has the most fun of the bunch. The hirsute professional sleuth, assigned to the gay and lesbian unit, still sports a shiny wedding ring although admits to being “a little gay” as he devours Manny’s face and eats his way into his heart. No slouch with a brush himself, his instant-art rendering of the one he protects depicts an appendage suitable for a wheel barrel, which—even in pastel—puts to shame the numerous “real,” if nameless, meat that flits unabashedly across the screen.

Happily, the music tracks with their punch and edge make the film at least feel like it’s moving forward while Doug Gritzmacher’s roving camera, with clever assists from the around-the-corner editing, show everything to great advantage. But the continuous tug of war between full-frontal buffet and plot points from hell (anyone who can’t unmask the villain twenty minutes pre-dénouement should immediately enroll in Narrative 101) produces huge frustration instead of a salacious peek into the ever-so-dark world of on-line lust. JWR

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