It's easy to go a little crazy in a world where streaming, tweeting, and commenting on our lives at all times has become "a thing." Unfortunately, one of the emerging trends is particularly harmful and toxic; namely, people who thrive on being offensive, dangerous, and completely unethical. Annie (Annie Hardy) checks all of these boxes in Rob Savage's newest creation, DASHCAM, a gore-filled mad ride that will turn off viewers with its insensitive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plot revolves around Annie, an American internet troll who thrives on being extremely outspoken and frequently offensive. The character is vulgar and candid about her anti-vaccination and the overall pandemic views. One could say that she is a stereotypical “Karen,” rocking her MAGA hat and yelling at those who wear masks and respect social distancing. But Annie decides to break the quarantine rules by traveling from Los Angeles to London, where she imposes herself on her friend and former bandmate, Stretch (Amar Chadha-Patel).
DASHCAM is a found-footage horror film in which the entirety of Annie's life and, in particular, her outspokenness and very far-right attitude are captured on her (in)famous live stream. Furthermore, the audience can see the comments and reactions plastered on the side of the screen. Annie is having her "fun and games,” for example, as she harasses the restaurant worker who asks her to wear a mask inside. The character frequently makes insensitive, often incestuous jokes that aren't funny at all.
The frivolous atmosphere on the live stream shifts when Annie steals a car and is suddenly paid and tasked to drive a mysterious woman, Angela (Angela Enahoro), to the given address. With the appearance of Angela, who doesn't answer any questions asked and remains silent, the tone of DASHCAM shift into a truly bizarre story, laced with blood, gore, and unmitigated repulsion. There are many vomit-worthy moments, as well as moments when viewers may simply yell, "What the hell is going on?!"
Unfortunately, Annie is perhaps the worst person in this film. It's impossible to like her or have any warm feelings towards her. She comes off as an arrogant character who refuses to wear a mask. She's obnoxious and invading. Annie is essentially a villain in her own film. She's unfazed by what's going on around her. In the face of the death of another human being, for example, Annie creates rhymes and sings.
Perhaps Annie's existence was meant to be ironic, something to ponder as we finish the film. However, a quick search is all it takes to realize that there is more real Annie Hardy in the lead character than we previously knew. Her provocative, anti-vaccination attitude is evident in a variety of her real-life Tweets. Once knowing this, the previously assumed satire of going on an adventure with an awful human turns into the absurd spectacle where creators have given someone a platform to spew hate and misinformation under the pretense of a completely fictional character and scenario. It’s tasteless and it’s certainly too soon, as we are still fighting COVID-19 variants and many of our loved ones have died from the virus.
It's truly impossible to grasp and understand the director's intention. Is he trying to frighten? Is he trying to make people feel uncomfortable, or just plain offended? If so, it certainly worked, but not in a positive way as this approach comes off as utterly insensitive and tasteless.
The only good part of this film is Angela Enahoro, who plays the shy and mysterious older woman. The ambiguous emotions that she awakens linger with us throughout the film, making us shudder and completely confusing the audience at the same time. She's the most mysterious character in the movie, and it would be fantastic if her gruesome story was explored more.
The film's third act and finale are perhaps both the craziest and most unsatisfying segments. The amount of blood splattered on the screen is not spared by Savage. While some of DASHCAM's best components are the gore elements, any better factors of this chaos are utterly destroyed by the lead.
If you're expecting the same creepiness that Savage delivered by creating Zoom-session horror in Host, you will be disappointed. DASHCAM is undeniably a crazy ride filled with gore and repugnance, but the unsatisfying ending detracts from the film's overall reception, and the main character playing someone close to her real-life self is neither funny, nor entertaining.
Movie Score: 1/5