Dashcam stars musician Annie Hardy as a fictionalised version of herself, who travels to the UK to try and escape the Covid-19 lockdowns in America. She moves in with her former bandmate Stretch (Amer Chadha-Patel), but her abrasive personality proves too much for him to handle, causing matters to escalate, with her stealing his car and intercepting a delivery job sent to him. However, this turns out to be no ordinary job, and Annie is tasked with driving Angela (Angela Enahoro) to a safe location. Angela appears to be a normal – if sickly and unresponsive – old woman, but Annie soon discovers that that is far from the case.
The film’s main gimmick is, well, its dashcam; Annie is a vlogger who primarily streams from her car, and most of the movie’s footage is taken from the car’s onboard camera or Annie’s iPhone. This is an interesting approach and works well to create a constant sense of fear, but it also feels like Dashcam doesn’t do as much with the premise as it could have. The shaky camera is a neat trick, but at times it feels like the only trick the film has, and it becomes tiresome after a while.
Dashcam’s horror mostly consists of blurry jump scares and heaps of blood (and other fluids). While these techniques give the production a sort of B-movie charm, they also wear out their welcome in a short space of time, and the film rapidly becomes more of an ordeal than a genuinely compelling horror experience.
Similarly, the writing only has a few overused tactics up its sleeve. Annie’s coarse hyper-conservative shtick soon grates, and her vulgar quips end up being more irritating than amusing as the film goes on. The addition of the chat to the narrative could have been an thought-provoking avenue to discuss the nature of online communities, and the struggles of having to constantly perform for an audience, but nothing more is really done to explore the concept.
Dashcam is a film with an intriguing premise, but the execution sorely lacks the creativity and storytelling chops needed to make it anything more than a novelty. It’s a shame, because it had the potential to tap into some real, raw emotions brought about by the ongoing global pandemic, but it squanders it on some cheap laughs and jump scares.
Dashcam does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.