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DASHCAM Struggles to Balance the Humor & Horror

An American visits London to escape the current lockdown measures, livestreaming her travels. But when she’s asked to transport a sick woman, her trip abroad will take a horrifying turn. Dashcam comes from the same team behind the 2020 horror hit Host, but unfortunately, it doesn’t match that level of ingenuity or frights.

Conservative livestream-enthusiast Annie is tired of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions, and what she feels is government overreach. She travels to the United Kingdom to stay with her old bandmate Stretch, who lives in London with his liberal girlfriend. Annie is obnoxious and brash, which causes tension with her hosts.

After taking their car for a joyride in the middle of the night, she winds up at an empty restaurant where the owner offers her money if she can take her elderly friend to another address. She continues to livestream the ordeal, giving her unsuspecting audience an inside look into a chaotic, paranormal ride.

Like its predecessor cousin, this film is part of the found footage horror subgenre where the events are recorded or shown on a computer screen. It’s a polarizing—and a bit overdone—category, but films like Host utilized the concept well while being inventive. Even more recently, Deadstream had some fun with the idea of livestreams, showing how “live” audiences can play into the entertainment.

Dashcam does a decent job with this, setting Annie up as a mediocre musician internet personality with her show Band Car, though I wish it would have stuck to this idea more. Instead of having it all take place from a dashboard, there’s a lot of setup with Annie holding her phone to record on foot. Even during the thick of the chaos the perspective is that as well. This makes for some obnoxious camera work, perhaps the number one issue for people who dislike these films — it’s borderline nauseating at times.

There are decent creepy shots sprinkled throughout, but overall I didn’t find the story to be effective nor did it offer a thought-out conclusion. The schtick is overdone with Annie’s persona, and while it makes for some good humor at times, it takes away from the horrors the film is trying to build.

It’s not to say I had a terrible time with it. It excels when it’s either being wickedly funny or outlandishly terrifying — the problem for me was how it doesn’t quite balance the two together.

Dashcam hits SHUDDER on June 6

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