LFF 2021: Dashcam – Review

Release Date – 3rd June 2022, Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 17 minutes, Director – Rob Savage

Loud and outspoken music streamer Annie (Annie Hardy) steals her former bandmate’s (Amar Chadha-Patel) car and begins to experience a series of supernatural attacks after picking up silent, elderly passenger Angela (Angela Enahoro).

After the high impact of small-scale, Zoom based horror Host co-writer (alongside Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd) and director Rob Savage returns to further shake up the world of modern horror. Once again focusing on screen based internet horror, this time leaning towards the livestream. Over 77 minutes we duck in and out of connection with Bandcar – the internet’s #1 live improvised music show broadcast from a moving vehicle. That movie vehicle is captained by Annie (Annie Hardy), a loud and outspoken figure unleashing foul-mouthed raps about those in her comments section, and those who, as she views it, have fallen for the hoax that is COVID-19. For much of the opening stages of the film it’s somewhat difficult to actually get on with Annie. Savage and Hardy lure you into a false sense of security as she rattles off various slogans and phrases that you would expect to hear from a stereotypical internet troll diving into arguments about politics.

However, after travelling to the UK and stealing the car of her former bandmate, Stretch (Amar Chadha-Patel), Annie soon has something truly different for her viewers to witness. It comes as she takes on elderly passenger Angela (Angela Enahoro). Whether the silent figure is anything to do with the burst of supernatural occurrences or not is unknown, but what’s clear is that she certainly brings in an extra layer of eeriness to the proceedings. It’s the introduction of Enahoro’s character that truly kickstarts the elements of horror and allows the flow of the film to pick up, taking the viewer – alongside those viewing Annie’s stream – along for the madness and chaos of the ride.

As the film leans away from the toxic traits and spoutings of the central figure, although still including some such views by having – occasionally distracting, although realistic sounding – comments popping up at the side of the screen throughout, it simply allows for the horror elements to take centre stage. There’s a consistent tone established as Annie, and indeed one or two of the other figures who pop up over the course of the film, are thrown around and subjected to various unseen forces. A different tone and style of horror to Host is created, one that embraces a sense of weirdness to slightly match the livestream scenario. It works and helps bring you into the film as it clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet still manages to conjure up plenty of scares within the found footage elements, and an ominous feel to the circling buffering/ connecting sign. It creates a static feeling to the images at play, a further feeling of confinement even when in the trapping open space of the woods.

While the case stands that if you look into certain points and potential repetitions the film might begin to fall apart it’s easy enough to be caught up within it and the various events that form as part of Annie’s continuous attempts to run; or drive, she’s certainly lucky she’s not driving a manual car here, away from the horror. Blair Witch comparisons can easily be made, and there are one or two shots that feel perhaps inspired by it, and yet Dashcam never feels bogged down by comparisons as it rattles along its lines of horror within its short run-time. A run-time which is well spent and flows well – with a fair deal of time spent in the credits with a creative choice that may not be to everyone’s taste.

But, when it comes to the chaos of the horror that the main film produces, particularly after luring you into something of false sense of perception/ presumption, there’s a consistent flow from creepiness to the occasional jump scare; without being too reliant on either. Placing you into the world of the livestream and throwing you around amongst the unseen, unexpected weirdness and chaos that the characters are going through as well. While it would be interesting to see how this would play out on a laptop, as Host so wonderfully did, there’s no denying that there’s a strong audience experience to be had with Dashcam and the various different reactions on display throughout; there’s a range of audible responses to be had and heard which all adds to the thrills of the experience. A fine blend of scares and well-utilised livestream-based mayhem, Rob Savage further displays himself as a fine name in the expanding progression of modern horror.

Pimp My Blair Witch; after leaning away from the traits of the central character and focusing on the horror there are plenty of scares conjured up within the well-used livestream format that Dashcam uses, embracing a sense of effective weirdness the consistent chaos flows well, taking all viewers along for the ride.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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