The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - DASHCAM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - DASHCAM

dashcam review
A rapping anti-vaxxer livestreams a night of terror.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Rob Savage

Starring: Annie Hardy, Amer Chadha-Patel, Angela Enahoro, Mogali Masuku, Jemma Moore

dashcam poster

When the world went into lockdown back in March 2020, filmmakers decided to knock out movies shot in their homes, often employing modern communication platforms. The results were mediocre at best. One of the better mediocrities was Rob Savage's Host, which used the clever gimmick of a séance playing out on a Zoom call. The movie was sloppily constructed in narrative terms and compared unfavourably to the likes of Searching and the Unfriended franchise, but Savage and his crew pulled off some highly impressive visual effects given their almost non-existent budget.

Quickly picked up by horror streaming service Shudder, Host became the most talked about horror movie of the first lockdown era. Blumhouse were so impressed they awarded Savage with a three picture deal. The first to arrive is Dashcam, which sees Savage continue in a found footage vein. So, what can the British filmmaker achieve with a Blumhouse budget?

dashcam review

The answer is he's managed to create one of the most insufferable movies I've endured in many a year. After capturing the early lockdown zeitgeist, Savage continues to comment on this era, which makes his film already feel dated. The protagonist is Annie Hardy, an American rapper/anti-vaxxer who hosts a livestream show from her car in which she improvises rap lyrics despite having zero talent for improv (a 12-year-old could literally do better).

Annie heads to England to hang out with her old bandmate Stretch (Amer Chadha-Patel) and is disappointed to find he's given up his hard-partying ways to live a quiet life with his "feminazi" girlfriend Gemma (Jemma Moore). Stretch now earns a living delivering fast food, and when Annie tags along she livestreams a confrontation with a deli proprietor who insists she wear a mask indoors. When Gemma sees this footage she kicks Annie out, only for Annie to steal her car and Stretch's phone. When the latter receives a delivery request, Annie decides to pick it up and treat herself to a free meal, but when she arrives at the restaurant she's talked into accepting payment to drive an elderly woman, Angela (Angela Enahoro), to a certain address.

The seemingly mute Angela promptly shits herself, but that's the least of Annie's problems as it seems the old lady possesses supernatural powers and is being tracked down by a shotgun wielding woman (Mogali Masuku). When Stretch catches up with Annie, the two find themselves on the run from both the bloodthirsty Angela and the mystery woman.

dashcam review

Dashcam has an interesting setup, but it's dogged by problems. The elephant in the room is Annie, the most unlikeable movie protagonist you could possibly spend 80 minutes with. While watching the movie I assumed Savage was parodying anti-vaxxers in a manner so broad that the character simply became a caricature, as Annie behaves in a manner that isn't recognisably human. No matter how much trouble she causes or how much danger she finds herself in, Annie keeps speaking in juvenile fashion, constantly saying things like "Shit in my mouth" and "Come in my ass." It. Is. Unbearable!

But here's the shocking part. Annie Hardy is played by…Annie Hardy. Not being down with the kids, I had to hit Google to find out about this person, who it turns out genuinely is a potty-mouthed, rapping anti-vaxxer! I'm pretty cynical about our future, but discovering that this cartoon figure actually exists has made me concede that we really are truly fucked.

So rather than being a satire of a certain type of Karen, Dashcam would seem to be a vehicle for Hardy's obnoxious persona. The result is a movie with a protagonist that only the most committed of the lunatic fringe could possibly root for. Horror movies have had douchebag anti-heroes in the past, but the likes of Bruce Campbell's Ash are charming douchebags, whereas Annie/Hardy is merely an intolerable douchebag. The film is so self-indulgent and enamoured of Hardy that it concludes with her improv rapping as the end credits roll, which amounts to her telling us Savage is well endowed and various executive producers like to "take it up the ass." I've always been against the idea of cinema patrons demanding a refund for a bad movie, but in this case they might have a point as they've been sold a found footage horror and are instead presented with a manifesto of gibberish they could have gotten for free on YouTube.

dashcam review

Hardy aside, the film simply doesn't work. There's barely a narrative here, with some details teased only to never be elaborated upon. We never really learn what's up with Angela, and that's part of the problem with found footage movies – we only see things through the POV of the camera-wielding protagonist and so we're deprived of crucial details. Of course, the big question in badly made found footage thrillers is always "Why are you still filming?" Here the camera is passed between Annie and Stretch in the most implausible fashion and only a hybrid camera operator/stunt performer would be able to capture the footage they livestream.

The only positive I can come up with is that the visual effects are quite impressive and the cheap video aesthetic makes them seem even more convincing. But this is made with Blumhouse money so of course the effects are going to be half decent. There's one shot that might have made for a great "She's behind you!" moment if we actually cared whether Annie lives or dies, but nobody in the audience will be screaming any warnings to this horrible harpy.

 is in UK/ROI cinemas now and on VOD from June 6th.

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