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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 09.21.21] United Kingdom horror

In the span of a couple of years, writer/director Rob Savage has become a sort of anomaly in the film business releasing tiny, back-to-back horror movies that have managed to impress critics while leaving audiences somewhat lukewarm. I haven't seen last year's Host which unfolds completely over computer screens but his latest, the Midnight Madness-selected Dashcam is certainly an experience.

Real-life musician Annie Hardy, formerly of Giant Drag, plays an exaggerated version of herself: an "always on" streamer who spends most of her life in front of the camera for a show titled "Band Car" where she drives around improvising songs and raps for her captive audience. Tired of the lock-down restrictions in LA, she makes an unexpected trip to London, landing at the home of a former band mate who, rather quickly, throws her out.

In an act of revenge, Annie steals his car and the next thing you know, Annie's offered a big chunk of cash to deliver Angela, a frail old woman. It seems like an easy enough job except things start to go wrong almost immediately after Angela gets in the car. Pretty soon, Annie is in the middle of what appears to be the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. I say appears because nothing is explained; we're all just along for the wild and crazy ride.

And wild and crazy it is. At a lean 77 minutes, approximately 10 of those being credits, Dashcam is non-stop. It's the kind of movie that starts at 9 and ramps up to 15 within the first act. The mix of fast-paced action and the vitriol that spews from both Annie and her followers can be exhausting but also exhilarating to watch. And just when you think it has nowhere else to go, Dashcam ramps up to 20.

The premise allows Savage and his crew to capture the unfolding madness with phones and other handheld devices that bring an authenticity that also borders on annoyance. At one point, when things have gone completely off the rails, one of Annie's viewers complains that they can't see anything; the feeling is mutual buddy. During these moments, it was easy to revert to reading the comments which are nearly always on screen and in some instances, I found myself trying to decide what to concentrate on because the commentary read exactly like the kind of sometimes hilarious, sometimes on-the-nose, and sometimes vitriolic social media commentary one might expect.

Dashcam is certainly a wild ride and for those willing and able - the extensive use of handheld camera will be too much for some, it certainly delivers on the horror and gore. More taxing than the handheld camera is Annie herself who comes across as a rude, selfish, entitled, and immature human being. It's a personality that might work online but is taxing to watch for an extended period of time. Thankfully Dashcam is short and sweet.

Recommended Release: Host

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bob (1 year ago) Reply

considering limitations of format ie a Zoom call, Host was very accomplished

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