Thursday 9 June 2022

Dashcam (UK 2022: Dir Rob Savage) NEW WAVE OF THE BRITISH FANTASTIC FILM 2022

I'm assuming that, by swiftly relocating the action of his new movie from the USA to England, this isn't a coincidence but rather Rob Savage cheekily responding to those who wondered how the director might fare on the other side of the pond, courtesy of his lucrative three picture deal with US company Blumhouse.

Playing herself (albeit a more amped up version), Annie Hardy is a potty mouthed social media presence who runs a show called 'Bandcar', in which she cruises America's highways and byways in her vehicle while freestyling her decidedly unliberal views, and with her fans providing constant on screen responses. But with lockdown depriving her of much of the street based inspiration she needs for her rhymes, Hardy decides to relocate to the UK and stay with her ex show mate Stretch, presumably hoping that this country's attitudes to dealing with the pandemic may chime with her own mask swerving antivax views.

However it's not long before Stretch and his unforgiving girlfriend Gemma (Jemma Moore from Host) find Annie a little too much for them and ask her to leave. Our social media star decides to boost Stretch's car and resume operations, but before long the movie's narrative turning point arrives: entering a seemingly empty diner, she encounters an employee who asks, and then heavily bribes Annie to give a lift to Angela, an older woman who is apparently unwell. Pocketing a wad of notes for her trouble, Annie soon finds that Angela is both incontinent and, well, demonic. And so begins a long night of our obnoxious anti heroine protecting herself while the world turns to shit.

Watching Dashcam one longs for the more sober camerawork of his last movie. This is a full on first person shot film, stylistically in keeping with JJ Abrams' 2008 flick Cloverfield (but without the monster, well without such a big monster) and the glitch aesthetics of the 'V/H/S' movies, with the big set pieces always just out of shot. As with all such films, there's the constant question about why people are continuing to film in the face of mortal danger (answer: they have to or we don't get a movie); in Dashcam mortal danger seems to crop up almost every five minutes courtesy of yet another crashed car or blurred attacking entity.

Savage's choice of a lead is an interesting one. In real life Hardy, who in the movie is a MAGA hat wearing Libtard caller outer, is the in your face guitarist and singer in the two piece band 'Giant Drag', whose gobby stage presence isn't a million miles away from the motor mouther social media character who swears and staggers her way through Dashcam. Hardy is difficult to take seriously and a good indicator of how Savage would like audiences to view his movie (let us not forget that the genesis of Host was an online prank perpetrated by the director). It's devoid of plot and character development, but gets by on shaggy dog violent and gross out set pieces and a constant sense of rather inarticulate forward motion. It's not a movie one would rush to see more than once (even at 68 minutes plus some spoofy credits) and it's hardly breaking new ground. But Savage remains a director to watch.

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