Director Rob Savage, responsible for Shudder’s 2020 breakout horror hit Host, is back with a vengeance in his found footage followup, Dashcam. This time around, Savage channels the manic energy of Evil Dead and the REC series for a bloody and bizarre feast for the senses. The introduction takes its time plunging us into the world of an outrageous shock-vlogger, before embracing the full extent of its funhouse of horrors (including one scene that quite literally takes place in a mirror funhouse!). I can already picture intense vitriol when it comes to the lead character’s political alignment, but for this viewer, her intense beliefs only further Dashcam’s dark humor leanings, and add to the overall experience. Put on your mask, and prepare for one wild ride into Dashcam.
At the center of the action is divisive anti-vaxxer Annie Hardy, who plays a heightened version of herself in the film. Annie is the one-woman team behind BANDCAR—“the internet’s #1 live improvised music show broadcast from a moving vehicle!” She takes live comments from users, and brews them into a hilarious hodge-podge of a song. “You sanitize because you believe the lies that the mainstream media guys tell you,” Annie sings unapologetically. Her fringe beliefs will undoubtedly grate the patience of some audience members simply waiting to see her bite the bullet. Essentially, the setup is a day in the life of Annie after she takes a spontaneous trip to London to crash the home of her former collaborative partner, El Stretcho (Amar Chadha-Patel), without a drop of warning. After stealing Stretcho’s car, Annie stumbles into a restaurant intending to pick up an order, and leaves with a fistful of money to transport sick elderly black woman Angela (Angela Enahoro) to her final destination.
If only it were that easy, but this being a horror film, obviously there is more to Angela than meets the eye. She shits herself in Stretcho’s car, which is tragic enough before she quite literally goes crazy on Annie when they stop off to clean her up. Stretcho happens to track down Annie just as the action and tension ratchet up tenfold. Angela reappears inside the car, sitting quietly with her seatbelt on as if she never left in the first place, and from here it only gets crazier by the second. Annie and Stretcho are forced to fight for their lives, all while Annie continues to make inappropriately savage jokes.
Similar to Host, Dashcam is a very short movie. Clocking in at a slight 77 minutes (at least 10 of those minutes is one of the most creative closing credits sequences I can recall), the horror still leaves a shit-streaked mark of grime. We get our fair share of decapitations, syringes stuck in feet, bloody bites, and fiery explosions! The scares come fast and furious—I can barely describe the level of creepiness leaping off the screen as Angela’s medical mask floods with blood. The central mystery goes mostly unexplained, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks with their imagination.
If I had one complaint to lobby at the film, it would be that the constant stream of user comments is incredibly distracting, and at times headache-inducing. It occasionally pulls focus from the primary action at hand; at its best, the ridiculousness of the commentary is laugh-out-loud funny, like after a death when someone remarks “cause of death – covid.” It certainly serves to strengthen the fact that the internet is full of terrible people who want their voices heard regardless of what said opinion may entail.
Best described as Spree meets Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Dashcam may indeed divide genre fans when it debuts in theaters from Blumhouse later this year. I felt myself sucked in by the black comedy, fast-paced vibes, and gallons of gore. Dashcam is scary, intense, disgusting found footage horror, and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to see what demented thrills Rob Savage and company will cook up next.
Dashcam screened at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.