Horror Film Review: Dashcam (dir by Rob Savage)

Calm down, people.

Seriously, the amount of online hate that I’ve seen directed at the found footage horror film, Dashcam, is not only insanely over the top but it also proves (as if there was any proof necessary) that there are a lot of people out there who are incapable of understanding social satire.

Annie Hardy stars as Annie Hardy, a musician who hosts Band Car, the internet’s #1 Live Improvised Music Show Broadcast From A Moving Vehicle.  Yes, Annie Hardy is playing a fictionalized version of herself, which is something that many of this film’s critics don’t seem to understand.  (Or, more likely, they do understand that but they’re pretending to be obtuse for the clicks.)  In the film, which was shot at the height of COVID lockdowns, Annie grows tired of Los Angeles and hops a plane for London.  In London, she reunites with her former bandmate, Stretch (Amer Chadha-Patel) and proceeds to clash with just everyone that she meets.

The film’s version of Annie is outspoken about her politics, which is one reason why so many critics have gone after this film.  Annie is anti-lockdown.  She’s anti-government.  She has little use for virtue signaling activists.  She spends a lot of time going out of her way to annoy people who wear masks.  These are all things most of today’s movie heroes are not allowed to do but Annie’s attitude is, for better or worse, a fair reflection of how a lot of people were feeling at the height of the COVID era.  Despite what was often presented in the movies and on television, most people were not lighting their Fauci prayer candles and dutifully waiting for word from the CDC.  Most people were not the girl from that Walgreen’s commercial, smiling behind their mask as they rode their kick scooter to the neighborhood market so that they could pick up the latest organic fruit.  Most people were frustrated and pissed off and sick of having to pretend otherwise.

Annie’s trip to the UK is predictably a disaster and, because she live streams the entire experience, Stetch’s always-masked wife discovers just how much she and Annie disagree on politics.  This leads to a physical confrontation which leads to Annie stealing Stretch’s car.  You do have to feel a little bit bad for Stretch at this point.  Stretch works as a food delivery driver so, as annoying as Stetch can be, he does kind of need his car.  Annie decides to take on one of his deliveries herself, just to discover that the owner of a restaurant wants Annie to drive a sick and incontinent old woman named Angela to another location.  Despite her initial misgivings, Annie agrees.  Because Annie has been live streaming the entire time, Stretch is able to track them down.

Of course, it turns out that Angela is not quite what she seems and soon, Annie and Stretch find themselves having to deal with cults, demons, and a lot other things.  Quite a few people die along the way.  Except for a few times when the signal is lost, the entire event is live streamed and the film is worth watching twice just so you can read all of the comments from the people watching Annie and Stretch try to survive a night.  They provide a commentary not only on what’s happening to Annie and Stretch but also on the horror genre in general and the whole found footage idea in specific.  At the same time that I was getting annoyed with Stretch for being whiny, so were Annie’s fans.  While Annie and Stretch were running from Angela, a fight was breaking out in the comments over Annie’s politics.  A few people were concerned that Annie was going to get killed.  A few were claiming that it was all fake.  The majority were eager to see more blood.  Quite a few complained that any moment that Annie spent hiding from Angela was “BORING.”  One thing they all had in common was a need to try to turn everything that they were watching into either a commentary on politics or an ironic joke.  It was a perfect portrayal of online culture.

Both Annie and Angela are forces of chaos in Dashcam, perfect representations of how many people were feeling at the height of the COVID era.  (Angela wears a mask throughout the film.  At one point, the mask fills up with blood, which is perhaps as powerful a symbol of COVID horror as I’ve seen thus far.)  Annie’s a survivor because she refuses to rationalize everything that’s happening around her.  She embraces her anger and her annoyance with the world.  As a result, Dashcam is not just an effective found footage horror film.  It’s also a document of how many people viewed the world in 2021.  With so many now trying to rewrite the history of what actually happened during the COVID era, it’s important to have a film, like Dashcam, that reveals just how angry and paranoid people really were.  In its way, Dashcam is a valuable time capsule.

Annie Hardy is currently taking a lot of online abuse from trolls who can’t tell the difference between the film’s Annie Hardy and the real-life Annie Hardy.  That’s a shame because Annie Hardy is a natural when she’s onscreen and she gives a good performance.  Dashcam is currently on Hulu and it’s tempting to compare this film sharp combination of horror and commentary to the rather bland and painfully inoffensive Hellraiser reboot.  Hellraiser could have used Annie Hardy.

One response to “Horror Film Review: Dashcam (dir by Rob Savage)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 10/17/22 — 10/23/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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