'Dashcam' review: Shallow horror film crashes and burns
Courtesy of Momentum Pictures
One of the few highlights of the pandemic shutdown was seeing how filmmakers would adapt to creating art in secluded, often, remote environments. Nobody captured the zeitgeist more than Rob Savage’s 60-minute, shot over Zoom, chiller “Host” which bottled all the anxiety and uncertainty of the future into a deliriously fun horror trifecta. Naturally, I was eager to see Savage’s next project and watch his evolution with a much bigger canvas, but his latest, “Dashcam,” ironically enough is the type of pandemic shlock that “Host” inspired after its critical success. Maybe we should stop making movies surrounding a pandemic? Now there’s a concept.
“Dashcam” keeps in the spirit of “Host” and runs a scant 76-minutes, but ditches the Zoom setting for a Discord stream where the likes and comments section unfurl at rapid speed. (I found myself watching the comments more than the movie). “Dashcam” follows Annie Hardy, a real-life social media star herself who’s primary gag is poking fun at the MAGA crowd and improvising raps based on fan feedback. Nothing is off limits either: get ready for distasteful jokes about COVID vaccines, anal penetration, immigration and sheeple/snowflakes. It would have worked had we not heard these sayings a million times.
What remnants of the non-linear story that are left has Annie visiting an old bandmate in the UK named Stretch (Amar Chadha-Patel) who’s grown weary of his friend’s racist remarks. Of course, this exemplifies the political ideologies of both parties: one is considerate and the other is obnoxious. We already knew this, but “Dashcam” doesn’t thrive on subtly. Made apparent by the film’s horror elements coming into play when Annie agrees to transport a sick, elderly woman to the hospital, only for things to quicky escalate into a freakish, supernatural zombie terror. Watching Annie navigate the terrain and make sense of what’s happening around her proves an exhausting exercise in tolerance. Even as shit hits the proverbial fan, her conservative sense of humor never wanes. You might end up rooting for her demise. Perhaps that’s the point.
It’s a bummer writers Gemma Hurley, Jed Shepherd and Savage couldn’t strike lightning twice, but they all present a unique horror voice the genre needs. This trio would thrive with something akin to “The Evil Dead” considering the practical effects in “Dashcam” earn high marks, including a memorable gory decapitation. “Dashcam” may be a step back in terms of quality, but I’ll be eager to see what they cook-up next.
DASHCAM opens in select theaters and will be available digitally on Friday, June 3rd.