Set during the Covid pandemic, we are introduced to Annie Hardy. Annie is a musician and a well-known live streamer who spends her nights driving around while hosting a live music show known as ‘BandCar’. In the film’s world, BandCar is the number one live improvised music show. Annie has fun sharing her adventures and interacting with strangers while showing off her musical giftings. She even encourages her live audiences to give her a word from which she can instantly improvise a song. But driving around in her car isn’t the only time the world of social media gets to see Annie; she also streams from her home and other locations just for fun.
One day, Annie decides to fly from her home in L.A. to London. Annie is on a mission to surprise her ex-bandmate, Stretch (Amar Chadha-Patel), with a visit, and the world is invited to witness it. Annie decides to livestream their reunion and even show some of their banter. We get a glimpse of what Stretch does for work during the outbreak. However, when the conflict arises between Annie and Stretch, she takes his car without permission. While Annie is enjoying being rebellious and showing off to her fans, an opportunity presents itself where she is offered a large sum of money to transport a mysterious woman. At first, Annie declines as the person who needs transporting doesn’t look well, but money speaks loudly, and Annie accepts the job using Stretch’s car. However, as Annie will soon discover, there’s more to the mysterious passenger than she could ever expect, and a wild night of horror is about to begin.
Dashcam is best described as a horror movie in the found footage style. We see everything from the perspective of Annie’s followers right from the start of the film. We get to witness the various online interactions and comments she encounters during the live coverage. As viewers, we gain a deep understanding of Annie and her personality. For most viewers, Annie will be highly unlikeable, especially given her opinions regarding the Covid outbreak and her refusal to wear a mask. On top of that, Annie is quite selfish, and at various times, she puts herself first above others around her. She also enjoys talking loudly and being rude. This character was hit-and-miss, but the many random moments and one-liners were quite welcome. But again, this will vary from viewer to viewer.
As for the horror side, I lost count of how many times my jaw dropped to the floor. There are many surprises here; the less you know about this film, the more shocking and entertaining it is. Visuals relating to horror, such as blood, gore and violence, are also pleasing and praiseworthy. What begins as something relatively small only enlarges into something far bigger than I expected, and there are plenty of unpredictable and fun moments. The social media and live streaming concepts are pleasing and relatable.
As for negatives, this is truly going to depend on the viewer. A factor that will always divide opinion is the issue of the shaky handheld camera filming style used throughout. For the most part, I found this acceptable, but I can’t deny that by the third act, I was beginning to feel somewhat exhausted from watching the camera fly, swing around, fall, etc. The same could be said about the plot, but thankfully, the runtime is short, and the film ends well before dragging on. While still pleasing, the ending ends abruptly and slightly without any proper conclusion, leaving audiences with lengthy credits.
Overall, if you’re looking for a found footage feature that takes things to the next level, Dashcam is here for you. I honestly lost count of how many times my jaw dropped due to the many shocking moments and unexpected surprises. On top of the incredible aspects here, there are plenty of random gags and one-liners, making it nearly impossible not to chuckle along the way. As a found footage feature, naturally, the shaky cam will not please everyone. I admired the creativity, but while energetic, the film’s lead comes across as relatively loud and rude, which could also be a significant hindrance to some. In the end, I found this film exceeded my expectations, and the less you know about Dashcam, the more enjoyable your cinematic experience will be.