Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: Two friends embark on a horror-fueled road trip and livestream the most terrifying night of their lives.
Context: If there’s one thing you can say about the human race is we’re adaptable. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic the majority of countries had mandated shut downs and most people had to work from home. So if you’re in the business of making movies you had to do a lot of innovative and imaginative things to keep creating new media. And if there’s one thing you can count on horror writers and directors for, is the ability to adapt.
The genre in particular has always been made up of folks who due to budget constraints had to think outside the box to come up with entertaining stories. Most recently the horror movie Host was made over Zoom and utilized the isolation of the pandemic to come up with a fun and engaging story (strangely enough, the team behind Host are the same ones behind Dashcam). Isolation was a horror anthology that gave us nine short stories centered around tales of survival during the pandemic. And I’m sure there are others out there I have yet to see.
Review: This brings me to Dashcam a movie where the story focuses on a woman named Annie Hardy (played by herself) who is a self-described social media influencer, rapper and conspiracy theorist. Annie is basically one of those people who the masses will hate and a minority of people love because she’s, how do I put this delicately….. a MAGA-loving, extreme right wing, overtly racist person who doesn’t believe the pandemic is real or that she should have to wear a mask in public. In layman’s terms, Annie is the kind of character you’ll love to hate.
While on a trip to visit her friend Amar (Amarettos Chadha-Patel) who she calls Stretch (by the way, everyone in this movie basically goes by their real names) Annie forces Amar to let her stay at his place. She pisses off his girlfriend with her constant prejudicial statements and obnoxious behaviour (at one point she spits in her hand and slaps Amar with it) and when she’s finally forced to leave she steals his car. And to get back at him she answers a call on his phone (which she also stole) to pick up a delivery. At this point Annie discovers the pickup is a strange old woman who may or may not be possessed.
Long story short guys, Dashcam is an interesting movie in spurts that’s undermined by the found footage-shooting style (LOADS of shaky cam makes it really hard to see anything) and a protagonist that’s wholly unlikeable. Well, maybe not wholly as Annie Hardy pours so much energy into this hateful character you’re compelled to see what happens to her on this horrific journey of a night gone terribly wrong.
Of all the missteps found in Dashcam though I think the worst is the lack of any character arc or growth when it comes to Annie. There are times where you see signs of an actual decent human being and these are the moments that kept me invested, then the scene would change and we would be right back where we started with her. Annie’s character is everything we as a society find despicable and I think the story could’ve benefited from seeing her learn from her atrocious behaviour instead of double down on it. Then again, maybe that’s the entire point of Dashcam— some people never change.
Amar Patel as Stretch is also solid in his role as honestly a friend that’s way too decent a guy to be hanging out with someone like Annie. The gore is also well done and each bloody scene amps things up a bit more, taking us to a tension filled conclusion that had me thinking of the tunnel chase in 28 Days Later. Take note though, Dashcam is one of those movies that equate grossness with horror, so maybe avoid eating anything before you watch this.
It’s a shame the camera work wasn’t better here and while I do understand they were going for the realism of someone shooting all of this from their phone, it was more headache-inducing than anything else. The scenes where Annie’s stream would go live also added a nice layer to the story, where her followers (all of them seem as awful as she is) are commenting on the proceedings and the reality of it, as well as their feelings about whether poor Stretch should live or die.
A fun simple premise that’s unfortunately dragged down by the found footage style it’s going for and a protagonist who is 99 per cent unlikeable during 100 per cent of the runtime, not to mention I’m still not sure exactly what the entity here was supposed to be (demon or alien). If that sounds like something you might be interested in seeing, then Dashcam might be the movie for you.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you though.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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