The team behind lockdown horror Host returns with a brand new shocker. Dashcam might be the less sophisticated out of the two, but it’s unique and provocative, just as horror should be.
I consider myself a bit of a horror aficionado. I watch anything horror related, I did my dissertation on horror films and I love to be scared, although that’s somewhat of a novelty nowadays. That being said, Rob Savage’s Host, a 59-minute feature made entirely in lockdown and about the lockdown, renders me completely unable to function due to the intense fear it revokes in me.
It’s not easy to be scared anymore. Horror films often aim to either violate you with brutal, graphic violence or maybe just impress you with action sequences and pyrotechnics (*cough* Firestarter *cough*)
So in that sense, Savage’s sophomore feature Dashcam feels fresh and new, even if it follows a relatively traditional storyline. Streaming most of her life live, Annie Hardy flies all the way to London to meet up with her old friend Stretch in the middle of a pandemic. She causes a bit of rift between Stretch and his girlfriend and ends up stealing Stretch’s car. She then encounters an old woman, Angela, and is pleaded by her friend to transport Angela somewhere. Annie accepts and soon regrets it.
Savage signed a three picture deal with Blumhouse and Dashcam is the first of those three to hit our screen. Let’s be honest here, Dashcam will not be for everyone. It’s crass, out of control and weird, with questionable ethics. Annie is a raging COVID-denier and all around awful person and it’s difficult to keep watching her.
But Dashcam is also fiercely unique and it has that we-don’t-give-a-fuck -attitude, that refusal to please that’s so important to horror. Dashcam is an anarchist film, but never offensive. It never condones Annie’s words or actions. In fact, you spend a lot of time thinking she’s deserving of every single terrible thing that happens to her, which in turn leads you, the viewer, to question your own morals.
It sounds heavy, but it’s not. Dashcam is a breezy 77 minutes long and best served with a raucous audience inside the darkness of a cinema. Dashcam will be divisive and will definitely ignite some heated debate, but hasn’t that always been the role of horror? To question, to challenge and to make us uncomfortable.
The film is presented in the found-footage format, with Annie constantly live-streaming her journey. It pushes the audiences’ ability to suspend their disbelief; the live-feed often cuts just as things get intense, to make that rather irritating chat box on the bottom left of the screen disappear conveniently.
Love it or hate it, Dashcam is a unique experience. Films can so often be passive; we sit down and watch them, blindly accepting whatever is thrown in front of our eyes, but with Dashcam, Savage forces us to actively engage with his film. We’re forced to examine our own morals as well as constantly question whether showcasing something is the same as agreeing with it. Is Savage siding with Annie just by featuring her? I doubt it. Hardy plays an exaggerated and extreme version of herself in the film, but the lines between fiction and reality are blurry.
Even when Dashcam isn’t particularly scary, it is wildly entertaining. It’s almost an exhausting watch and while it’s not necessarily a rewarding one, the journey to the conclusion is thrilling. It’s silly, it’s frightening and it’s a bloody good time.
Dashcam is in UK cinemas June 3.