Rob Savage hit big with his lockdown horror Host, which premiered on Shudder in July 2020 and became an instant hit. The film resonated with an audience that had spent months locked inside their small flats and attending awkward Zoom calls with friends and colleagues. It also offered fierce jump scares and at just 59 minutes left a huge impact on viewers across the globe, promising much for Savage, who went on to sign a three picture deal with Blumhouse and we’re now witnessing the first of these, Dashcam.
Dashcam follows Annie Hardy, a MAGA-loving antivaxxer who streams BandCar from her car, a live music show where she rambles and raps for her followers. During the pandemic, Annie travels to England to visit her friend Stretch and after stealing his car, Annie goes on a ride of her life, with horrendous, bloody and fatal consequences.
Even saying this much of the plot feels wrong. Dashcam is as shocking, wild and outrageous as they come and it is best to go in completely blind. Like Host, Dashcam uses technology to tell its story as Annie’s adventure unfolds as the most extreme episode of BandCar ever. It can be overwhelming; Annie’s viewers send hundreds of comments which are shown on the left side of the screen but when things start happening, it’s difficult to watch the action and read the comments.
Dashcam’s biggest issue is Annie herself. She is insufferable, awful and quite frankly, deserves to suffer. And oh boy, suffer she does. Protagonists in horror films are often pure and innocent, who overcome impossible obstacles and defeat supernatural and natural offenders, but Annie, even without her controversial opinions, is a prick. She behaves badly, acts selfishly and it could prove alienating for most audiences. Most importantly though, Savage never glamorizes or accepts her bad behaviour, even if he offers her a platform of sorts. We’re never meant to root for Annie, but to cheer on as she is violated, frightened and dying.
Savage’s direction is once again top-notch and Dashcam features insane scares and the plot goes from weird to wild to unbelievable, in all the best ways. The shaky handheld camera work might conceal some of the budgetary restrictions and it can be frustrating, but it’s also immersive and for the action to unfold in real time is thrilling. The script also features a surprising amount of jokes and Dashcam is very funny and never anything less than truly entertaining.
Dashcam will certainly prove to be controversial, but if you get past the absolutely dreadful main character, it’s a film that provides an equal amount of laughs and shrieks and a hell of a good time. This might be the wildest film you see this year or even this decade, guaranteed to leave your jaw on the floor and head spinning. It’s yet another masterclass in terror from Savage and an interesting deviation from your regular horror movie protagonist. Come for the shocks, but stay for the laughs.
Dashcam screens as part of BFI London Film Festival