★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Rob Savage
In 2020, film maker Rob Savage became a household name to housebound horror fans with his film Host. Set during and filmed within the confines of a zoom session, the film was a breakout hit and made many of The Scariest Things’ top 10 Horror lists, including mine.
In 2021, Savage and co-writer Gemma Hurly premiered their next collaboration Dashcam at the Toronto International Film Festival. While Host united viewers exploring the collective experience of lockdown, isolation and connecting virtually, Dashcam is an incredibly polarizing film mainly because of the protagonist (really the antagonist) Annie Hardy.
Hardy, played by, in an over the top interpretation of, the musician of the same name Annie Hardy, is a MAGA hat wearing, Covid denying online personality who drives the streets of LA broadcasting “BandCar”, an improvised lewd and foul mouthed rap show from her car to her online followers.
Bored by the lockdown, she gets on a flight to England where she thinks the restrictions will be looser and she can have some fun (Florida probably would have been a better bet). She shows up in the middle of the night at her former bandmate Stretch’s (Amar Chad-Patel) house and wakes him with a spit soaked slap on the face.
Stretch’s girlfriend is not happy to have an unexpected visitor especially one who shirks all Covid rules and won’t socially distance or wear a mask so Stretch takes Annie out with him as he works as a delivery driver for the UK equivalent of Door Dash or Uber Eats. After an extremely uncomfortable and antagonistic encounter at a take away restaurant, Annie becomes frustrated that her old friend is buying into the pandemic brainwashing so she decides to leave, taking his cell phone and stealing his car.
When she answers a delivery order on his stolen phone, she arrives at an abandoned restaurant where the order isn’t to deliver food but to take a sick and elderly woman named Angela (Angela Enahoro) to the address 214 Timberline Way. What happens next is a balls to the wall literal shit show of a ride that has to been seen to be believed.
Shot in shaky cam style via the titular dashcam and cell phones, all the time being broadcast on Annie’s BandCar page, the film taps into many feelings we’ve all had during the pandemic; fear, paranoia and the general sense that everyone is losing their minds. The viewer experiences both physical discomfort watching the shaking screen as well as going through an emotional ringer listening to Annie’s very politically incorrect and crude ramblings throughout her horror filled journey; she really doesn’t care what is going on as long as she gets the last word in.
It’s amazing that Savage was able to make me root for her during the climax of the film when I disagree with everything she holds dear, but as he said himself when I spoke with him, “cinema is the ultimate empathy machine, especially horror”.
It may sound like the only horror in the film is spending 77 minutes with a right wing nut job but oh no, there is blood, guts, severed limbs, feces, great jump scares and more car crashes than a Fast and Furious film. Dashcam will NOT be for everyone! The film left me completely drained but wanting to experience it again…and that’s what a good horror film does.
Dashcam is screening in person during Panic Fest on Sunday, May 1st and Wednesday, May 4th. If you are in Kansas City and don’t already have your Panic Fest pass, you can buy tickets to either showing here. It will be available in wide release on June 3rd, in the US and June 6th in the UK.
The Scariest Things sat down with Rob Savage to talk Dashcam and all things horror- stay turned for the Podcast Extra Interview!