Based on her real in-car live streams, Dashcam stars musician Annie Hardy as a right-wing conspiracy vlogger, in what seems like a genius parody until one looks at Hardy’s Twitter feed and realises she is actually playing herself. Between bizarre rants about Greggs and “the vegan agenda”, her posts rail against vaccinations and 5G, presumably the technology that allows her to stream from her car in the first place. Obviously a polarising protagonist, Hardy clearly sees the funny side and lends the project a unique authenticity, undermined by plot holes so gaping you could drive a car through them.
Shot entirely on her phone or dashcam, Hardy provides a front-seat view of the vehicular horrorshow. The stream follows the anti-lockdown personality to England in order to escape “the fucking madness of America,” apparently too ill-informed to know that most other countries face the same restrictions. After running around yelling about facemasks, she steals a car and comes across a woman who asks if Hardy has a camera (she does) before entrusting her with a clandestine transaction. The film’s nonsensical nature is at odds with its realistic format, although none of this really matters when the shit hits the van.
Relentlessly scatological and gross (and that’s just Hardy’s rapping), the movie both eviscerates and vindicates the Covid sceptic, insofar as there is some kind of viral outbreak but it is not the one we think. However unlikely her glib reactions (carrying on filming is one thing, but continuing to rap?) Hardy’s endless stream of expletives and apologies proves surprisingly funny, alongside the humour of her on-screen commenters witnessing the chaos in real-time. And it is chaos; a torrent of blood, viscera and right-wing bile, spewed at whiplash-inducing speed without the safety belt of resolution or explanation.
Director Rob Savage combines the screenlife format with a more traditional found footage style. Despite its small-screen production it works remarkably well in the cinema, with enough shock and gore to elicit audible reactions from the crowd. Compared to Savage’s lacklustre lockdown effort Host (2020), it succeeds by actually dealing with the pandemic (as opposed to a seance) and bumps up the runtime to just over an hour, before Hardy raps the credits. Despite its narrative dearth, Dashcam is one of the better screenlife entries; an effective experiment in making found footage great again, with a protagonist so wrong it’s right (wing).
Dashcam has just premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.