I shall attempt to get through this review without mentioning The Blair Witch Project as Dashcam is a found footage movie and has a couple of people running through the woods at night. I have now mentioned The Blair Witch Project and I hope I don’t do it again.
Rob Savage put together and made headlines with his movie Host during lock-down. The Zoom based horror film captured both the terror of creepy goings on in people’s houses during a video call amongst friends. It was inventive, clever and timely enough to make quite a bit of noise and was the must-watch film of the initial lock-down.
Now, Rob has made another movie that taps into some of the issues we saw as society emerged from lock-down and the populace was divided by our need to protect ourselves and each other from the virus. Thankfully, this isn’t the focus of the film, and only serves as a character building footnote.
Annie is a live streaming rapper who has her phone’s camera constantly filming as she drives around town putting together rhymed lines geared around the comments made by her obnoxious viewing audience. These comments can be seen in the bottom corner of the screen throughout the movie. More often than not this vocal “poetry” lowers itself to the mention of lewd sex acts and quite quickly we realise that Annie is not the most desirable person to have around. We join Annie as she is making a trip across the Atlantic to the UK to meet her old pal Stretch, played by the always busy Amar Chadha-Patel, and his reluctant wife, Host‘s Jemma Moore.
The opening 20 minutes are uncomfortable and frustrating as Annie’s first few hours in the UK sees her disrupt Stretch’s marriage, possibly getting him fired from his food delivery job and stealing his car. Annie smashes through all the elements that make up Stretch’s life like a wrecking ball and for no real reason, other than Annie is Annie.
Whilst driving Stretch’s car Annie receives a request to deliver some food on his work phone. Annie decides to accept the offer, not that she is planning to make amends for what she has done to Stretch, more to see where it takes her next and entertain her audience. Arriving at a chip shop Annie is asked to take a elderly lady to an address, and persuaded by a large handful of cash. This elderly lady proceeds to wreak far more havoc than Annie could ever dream of as her night turns chaotic. Stretch catches up to Annie and becomes embroiled in the pandemonium.
Dashcam has a unique ability to keep the viewer aware of the exact goings-on despite the handheld nature of found footage movies. With all the shaky and wobbly shots we are never lost as to what just happened. Complicated events like car accidents and swimming are well done despite only having one vantage point, you know where Annie or Stretch is and what she has just done at all times.
As with Host there are a few gags peppered throughout. I laughed out loud a few times during the short runtime. One moment involved Annie defending herself against an attacker with a can for Orange Tango. In the comments at the bottom of the screen there was an entry reading “You’ve been Tangoed.” Very simple but refreshing given the unnerving tension the film is ramping up. Annie also has a natural ability to entertain amidst the crudity she normally delivers. Stretch steps on a hypodermic needle and being concerned about the chance of infection, Annie’s solution to lightening the mood and focusing on the larger problem was pretty funny.
On the topic of Host, Savage has included most of the cast members in smaller roles, Jemma Moore and Seylan Baxter have some decent screen time, however, Caroline Ward has an annoyingly small role and I didn’t even notice that Edward Linard was there too.
There is evidence that Annie might be an extremist Republican from her possession of the red “Make America Great Again” cap and her disregard for COVID safety considerations. However, I’m not convinced she actually possesses a strong political opinion and merely keeps props and ideals to antagonist people and generates drama for her channel. There is also a short moment during the intense climax when Annie takes a precious second to push a Donald Trump dashboard doll, it’s a cute moment.
Dashcam does get some mileage out of gross imagery. An early act of vulgarity involving a slap across the face serves to be a fun gag later in the movie. Bodily waste features early on and there is an unfavourable closeup of an attempted cleanup.
Whilst the run time is extremely short, 79 minutes, 9 of those minutes are handed to Annie doing her rap thing over the end credits, making obscene rhymes about the cast and crew’s names. By this stage the audience should be numb to the bawdy tone of these and realise that Annie is an incredible talent, wordsmith and humourist. I hope we see more of her.
Dashcam is worth the fuss and whilst not a landmark film it certainly is expertly crafted and plays immensely well. Perhaps there is political ingenuity in here that is lost on me and there will be a large percentage of the audience that cannot manage the ferocity contained within. However at this time, it’s a unique and creepy horror film with an edge we rarely see. Like The Evil Dead, The Blair Witch Project (Bollocks, I mentioned it again) and Saw before it Dashcam is a wild ride with an extra helping of nuts.
Dashcam is available to rent from Amazon Prime and Google Play Movies, however, you gotta get your VPN on. Vue cinemas have pulled all screenings of the film as they deemed the film too offensive. Looks like we don’t need the BBFC and can get rid of them as Vue will do it for free. Thank you Vue for saving us all from seeing this offensive movie, can we have Disney’s Avengers Regurgitated and Star Wars Episode 12 Jar Jar’s Shopping trip 4D instead?