TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! The press for the indie horror film DASHCAM says it’s like The Blair Witch Project and Instagram Live had a baby on a rollercoaster. That is a perfect description for the frenetic first-person Verite-meets-selfie style of this feature. Annie (musician Annie Hardy playing a wildly exaggerated version of herself) is a social media influencer who has convinced herself she can rap. She drops her rhymes in a seemingly continuous streaming show from her car on social media with a steady flow of freestyle rap on-screen comments both from her fans and detractors.
Annie lives in L.A. during the COVID-19 pandemic but somehow manages to get on a flight to England and drop in unannounced on friends there. Unfortunately, her anti-vax, maskless ignorance doesn’t sit well with her U.K. hosts, and she winds up needing to get out. She steals their car and going on a joy-ride that puts her in the path of a part-human/part-something-else creature. In the form of a woman called Angela (Angela Enahoro) that Annie picks up, the creature winds up terrorizing the English countryside like the Cloverfield monster. The presentation is chaotic and jumbled, but less because of the shaky-cam first-person video than because of the grating, trolling persona of the lead character.
“…going on a joy-ride that puts her in the path of a part-human/part-something-else creature.”
Director Rob Savage rocked the horror world with Host, and now he’s back with DASHCAM as his follow-up in the found-footage genre. Clocking in nice and tight at 77 minutes, the film has no wasted motion. It starts hard and gets wilder as it goes. The short runtime is a blessing on several fronts. Mainly, it means the action kicks off quickly and stays high-velocity for the entire time. Secondly, the lead character may well be the most annoying protagonist ever, and the less time spent with her, the better off your nerves will be. It helps that without anything like a traditional 3-act script, there’s no need for any pesky exposition. One might spend a significant chunk of the time looking forward to the moment when Annie is the next victim of the bizarre attacks from strange entities that only appear on screen in rapid cuts of blurred flashes.
Annie is an acerbic conspiracy-theory-spouting plague rat who insists on rapping narration even while others are being slaughtered. Not only is she a MAGA-hat-wearing right-winger, but her approach to her rhymes is that anything offensive gets top priority. Her screeds are meant to provoke, and there’s something to take down everyone. Hilariously, she even raps over the credits at the end about the size of the director’s junk and how Jason Blum (from Blumhouse) has an incestuous relationship with his mother. All in good fun, but she roasts everyone.
DASHCAM achieves Savage’s goal of being entertaining, scary, and creepy as f**k.
DASHCAM screened at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
"…entertaining, scary, and creepy as f**k."