dash cam is Christian Nilsson’s first feature film. It has already racked up the number 1 movie in the United States. There is a story to be told about this, of course. The film lasts 30 minutes unsubscribe, available on Vimeo and a beautiful social media based modern fear. As Christian told me recently, he and actor Eric Tabach had an idea and reverse-engineered it to produce a product.
That idea ? This is called four walls. During the pandemic, only a few films were in theaters, certainly no blockbusters. So if you hired one for the day for a flat fee, paid to buy all the tickets and then took the cash from the box office, it would go pocket to pocket. You wouldn’t lose anything. But you would have a sale. So Christian and Eric dressed up in tuxes and ran the movie, won $25,488, and waited for the numbers.
And on June 10, 2020, it was the number 1 movie in the United States. And that’s important because this movie wouldn’t have been made without that one. Someone asked Christian to do a full length version, but he couldn’t conceive of extending a film that was just made to facilitate an idea. He had something better.
And dash cam really is (something better). The plot is as follows: the sympathetic video editor Jake, working on a report and trying to work his passage to present himself in front of the press camera, receives images from the dashcam. It’s a shootout of a former attorney general and a cop. We see the incomplete report he’s working on, it’s clear that the policeman’s dashcam footage is highly anticipated, necessary for the story. When it appears in his inbox, it comes with another email. One marked “confidential”. It was sent by mistake. It contains more information. And Jake has to make a decision. To download or not to download. He downloads. Which leads to dizzying highs and vicious lows. It sounds simple. And it’s. So Christian Nilsson can focus on delivering a tense, claustrophobic, unfolding film.
dash cam is not a pandemic film. Well, it’s in a way; it takes place for one, and the action mostly takes place in Jake’s apartment. Whether by budget or artistic design, it adds to the suspense and Nilson made a point of telling me that he tries never to duplicate a shot twice. So it’s not a pandemic movie. Why? It features a character stuck in his own apartment, being advised by his girlfriend to go out, and many of us lived like that before covid set in. In front of several screens. They are new windows on the world, a new vision of interaction and life outside. It’s telling that Jake’s window to the outside world is behind him and the curtains are drawn.
Jake’s social media interaction through screens creates a world where he doesn’t have to be around people. It controls every interaction. When his boss calls him he leaves him for a few seconds until he can hide his beer bottle, he checks the stuff or treats on his door with the comment “no candy, sorry” and he can decide whether he engages or not.
This was portrayed in relation to De Palma’s 1981 film To extinguish and also to The conversationbut it actually looks more like an update rear window. In Hitchcock’s film, Jeff Jeffries is confined to his chair due to a broken leg and placed in front of his window, which overlooks his neighbors’ windows. It’s his window on the world, here it’s Jake’s multiple screens that he uses. Both characters see something wrong and both risk having their comfort and safety disrupted.
According to Nilsson, Charlie Tahan was ready to play the central role, but ozark and covid protocols changed that and so he tapped his co-producer and friend Eric Tabach to play the role. It is a fortuitous gesture. Tabach offers us a sympathetic performance, a man who has ambition but a will to achieve it by devoting hours to it; he is a slight underdog with an edge and a gullible nature that allows him to be drawn into conspiracy theories.
Ah yes, conspiracy theories. Clearly something is going on here. The slogan of the poster is “We were lied to”. But what is it? What is solved here? All that you want. This film resembles the political thrillers of the 70s like The parallax view and The Internicine project, we weren’t sure what would be uncovered but getting there was great. Too exaggerated to say that those 1974 movies made it a culture of cynicism towards political figures and it’s the same now? Maybe, but still good to watch.
Because dash cam also works as a very thin thriller. The claustrophobia of the room, the interruptions of social networks, the fear of having to go out, all this attracts us and the machines, the process, become a character; part of the suspense is created by the slow downloads. Unlucky ex-Attorney General Lieberman is played by Larry Fessenden, who horror fans know well for his many highly regarded films. He has little to do here, but it’s still tricky. His emotion, fear and excitement over the secrets he holds are palpable.
Jake ends up going out and it’s his downfall. But not in the way you might think. It is filmed with an unhurried simplicity to allow the story to unfold and the thoughts to lurk in the shadows. It’s not overloaded with subplots and character appeals. This movie focuses on being stylish and scary. dash cam pictures; for the people who cut you up…