Revisiting the miseries of lockdown and adding a demonic twist made a lot of sense in Brit director Rob Savage’s spiky, scary 2020 Zoom horror Host. Made for loose change and with a game cast and some terrific DIY shocks, it was both genuinely scary and a handy reminder that, however boring they are, at least your Zoom meetings don’t end in ritual slaughter.
Second time, not so much. Savage’s messy, chaotic Dashcam tries to repeat the trick of using a single lens – this time via a dashcam and iPhone – and filling the frame with shaky and ever-increasing bloody chaos. It’s unrelenting – and not in a good way.
The set-up has real-life LA musician Annie Hardy playing a version of herself as a vlogger who spouts conspiracy theories and improvises raps to her livestreaming audience of mostly MAGA types. She skips out of town and flies to London to impose her facemask refusenik views on her old musician mate (Amar Chadha-Patel) and his disapproving girlfriend (Host’s Jemma Moore).
In short order she’s stealing his car, ruining his job and unwittingly opening the car door to greater horrors. You have to hope that Hardy is not this annoying in real life, because by the time Dashcam’s supernatural menace reveals itself, you’re firmly on Team Blood-Spewing-Zombie. Maybe that’s the point. It’s hard to tell.
It’s unrelenting – and not in a good way
There are a few laughs along the way – Dashcam is not entirely in earnest about all of this – but the random shocks wear thin and none of it is remotely frightening. With endless jerky shots of trees interspliced with sudden splurges of gore, there’s just not enough visual information to give you any purchase on what’s happening – let alone be freaked out by it. And definitely don’t bother looking for meaning amid the on-screen scroll of posts from Annie’s subscribers. They’re just another gimmick in a film that’s too reliant on them.
In US and UK cinemas Jun 3.