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Writer/Director Rob Savage made huge waves in 2020 with Zoom-hosted seance gone wrong lockdown horror Host, a film recently voted as one of the scariest of all time in an online poll, and which caused sleepless nights for many horror hounds amidst the pandemic. Now, he returns with a COVID chiller of an altogether different sort. Where Host’s power was in its confinement, Dashcam goes out into our pandemic-battered world, as one provocative personality finds herself in an ever unfurling nightmare. In what is already gaining attention as a modern day video nasty.
Starring alternative indie rocker Annie Hardy (playing an extreme version of herself), this film sees the loud and controversial anti-vax, Trump supporting, live-streaming improv “rapper”, escaping the American lockdown experience to travel to meet an old mate in England. When things naturally go awkward, she finds herself on the road, unexpectedly asked to give a quiet lady called Angela (Angela Enahoro) a lift to a specific address, and soon, all manner of chaos ensues.
Dashcam is like an insane V/H/S segment sustained for a whole film. Think Gareth Evans’ Safe Haven meets Chloe Okuno’s Storm Drain and you are not far off. In an age where the blending of realism and horror in found footage has long since lost its potent “is this real?” edge, Dashcam emerges as a story that weaves fact and fiction together so indecipherably at times, it is the most effective films of its kind since the earliest days of this horror sub-genre. Dashcam is messing with you, but you are never quite sure to what extent. And how much of its presentation is authentic…well, up to a point anyway.
Savage’s follow-up to Host couldn’t be ballsier, using its admittedly fierce anti-protagonist in Annie Hardy and dragging her (and you) to hell for an unpredictable, gory and creepy ride, which rewards the eagle-eyed (watch those side-scrolling comments onscreen). And, while often – intentionally – testing your patience, Hardy’s performance is supremely effective, channelling elements of many people you have seen, heard or even know, into one body, a body that is like a teflon-coated insect, surveying the damage she has helped to craft and – despite being battered – emerging again and again from the viscera-spilling mayhem intact.
I don’t want to spoil the film, because this is a raw and insane cinematic joyride into darkness, that keeps getting wilder for its tight and sustained 76 minute duration, however what is safe to say is that the real monster here is mankind and social media. Few films nail both like this one and fewer still dare dwell in the demented headspace that this film opts to ccupy. Even fewer contemplate taking you to such a resolution, where no lessons are ultimately learnt, despite the horror that is experienced first hand…but what could be a more apt statement on the world as it stands? This film shows us how the most anarchic individuals among us, rarely are the ones who ultimately pay the price, even if suffering is inevitable for us all.
Dashcam is one of the most divisive horrors in years and the makers know it full well but my god is it an impactful white knuckle thrill, with so much to say that so many seem to have missed. Be it that they struggle to see no further than the aggressive politics of the lead character or that they care not to look deeper than the surface level melee. This horror deserves celebrating as the breathless, inventive, daring and genuinely unsettling ride that is is. A refreshingly and experimentally filmed big screen experience that is involving, distressingly honest and exhilaratingly entertaining, as it delves further and further into the fringes of our COVID-lashed and already insane world. See it with a crowd and at the cinema, because that is really how this is meant to be seen and felt. Buckle up.
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