I love found footage films; I’d say its likely my favourite sub-genre, and I’ve enjoyed all the sub-sub-genres it has ushered in such as screen-horror (a film taking place entirely on a computer screen, eg ‘Unfriended’) and live-stream horror such as ‘Spree’. I enjoy the immediacy and immersion it affords the audience, and so I was excited to watch ‘Dashcam’, the latest live-stream horror from director Rob Savage whose previous film was the screen-horror ‘Host’.
Set during our current pandemic times, Dashcam is led by Annie (Annie Hardy), a real-life anti-vaxxer/mask live-streamer hosting her show BandCar which is essentially a showcase for civil disobedience, malevolent mischief and horrible rapping. She is an unlikable character – abrasive and obnoxious, so to cast her as the lead and allow her to use her own platform and personality in your movie is a risky choice, one that doesn’t do this film any favours. With her MAGA hat and conspiracy-theory buzzwords, if I didn’t already dislike her than her choice to abandon her sweet cat to go to the UK from LA to cause mayhem there, would’ve done it.
Once in London, she wastes no time alienating her friend Stretch (Amer Chadha-Patel – amiable), insulting his girlfriend and stealing his car. After making herself a nuisance at an eatery, she picks up a strange passenger for cash and thus launches her strange, gross, bloody night – all captured on her livestream.
There are issues here that show up almost immediately, the livestream format kills any atmosphere that may have been generated as the constant stream of comments and emojis to the left of the screen is distracting and detaching, Savages choice to abruptly cut from tense scenes to a whole new scene with no explanation as to what happened during the cut was exasperating and failed to make use of the strengths of this genre, the chaotic jerky camera makes it hard to see what’s happening during key scenes, the protagonist’s lack of common decency and humanity is echoed in the films perspective and embracing of mean-spirited apathy, but the biggest sin of all is that this is boring. The storyline is thin and Annie is bad company, but its the repetitiveness and lack of invention or any real reason to exist that eventually does this film in. I was barely interested by the time this wrapped itself up, and I am struggling to remember many scenes or the finale at all at this point.
In 2021 another film came out called Dashcam, it was a tense indie thriller that didn’t get a wide released – watch that one instead; because the best thing I can say about this film is that its short, even though, like me, you may find yourself counting down the minutes of its runtime so that you can watch something else.