“Dashcam” Brings Intrigue and Suspense, But Not Much Else
Dashcam — no, not that Dashcam — takes its cues from many a found footage venture but goes in an interesting direction with it. It carves itself a slice of real-time true crime à la The Conversation or Blow-Up but seems more enthralled in its creating of a mystery than it is in solving it.
Jake is a video editor for a news correspondent, whom he ardently hates (and makes a point to let us know every time he talks to him) and is spending his Halloween evening cutting together a piece on a routine traffic stop that ends in gunshots and two deaths: that of the officer making the stop and a former Attorney General (played by Larry Fessenden). Conspiracies come from left and right both within the piece and from conversations Jake has with his girlfriend Mara via Zoom. When Jake examines the material he’s sent to edit into the final piece he receives something he’s not supposed to get which kicks off his personal mission to find out what really happened, and eventually try to one-up his boss to attempt to report himself instead.
Working alone from his small apartment in NYC, Jake uses his skills as an editor to analyze the footage and piece together the truth behind what actually happened. Has Jake uncovered a conspiracy that he can break on the morning news? Or is he seeing things that aren’t really there?
The solid line of safety and justice that are presumably painted for the news channel’s commitment to impartiality is demolished to make way for something more sinister. It is ultimately critical of the direction the system that protects law enforcement is going in, and carries on through this with its ever-increasing bleakness. The film leans in on a couple questionable (read: insensitive) moments of comic relief that look to be an odd note for Nilsson, the film’s writer and director, to want to hit on in a story that is trying to zero in on the problems of delegating censorship and an argument against authoritarian police rule. Dashcam still delivers an entirely watchable and engaging experience that knows how to pull viewers in but doesn’t seem to know how to move past its own discourse to deliver any real thesis on its half-baked morality tale.
Also starring Zachary Booth (“The Good Fight”), Scott Aiello (“Billions”), Noa Fisher (Uncut Gems) and Giullian Yao Gioiello (“Scream : The TV Series”).
Dashcam, written and directed by Christian Nilsson, is available On Digital October 19 from Kamikaze Dogfight and Gravitas Ventures.