Director Rob Savage talks Dashcam

After taking the horror genre by storm with his innovative lockdown found footage thriller Host, director Rob Savage has reteamed with Jed Shepherd and Gemma Hurley for Dashcam.

Bloody Flicks caught up with Rob to discuss the film, working with Blumhouse and taking on Stephen King in the near future.

How soon after Host did you start working on Dashcam?

Jed and I came up with the idea pre-pandemic, in 2018 or 2019. We were grabbing breakfast and he showed me Annie’s show Band Car, a real show she does where she improvises rap lyrics based on commenters’ suggestions. It was Annie that made it an interesting project to me. I knew she could carry the movie and make every horror set piece work, she’s so watchable and has such a fast wit, which was essential for a film like this with such a lot of improv.

We pitched it to everyone and no one was interested, it went on the shelf like so many other things. Then, after Host became what it was, we were looking for something to do with Blumhouse. I wanted to do something that could be shot quickly and in the same style as HOST, so we dusted this off. Everything about it felt more interesting as a pandemic concept. It was interesting to do a road movie when things were sort of opening up again. Interesting to take a character and put her in charge of an elderly woman when everyone was saying ‘don’t go outside or you’ll kill grandma.’

Was it always the plan to write again with Gemma and Jed?

Always. We were on a big creative high after Host. I really wanted to make a movie with the same team behind Host, but in person, in the same physical space, since we did Host remotely. Like HOST, there’s was no script. We wrote an outline for the movie and figured out what we needed to get emotionally or plot wise from each of the scenes, and then I’d work with the cast day by day to find the scenes.

What can you tell us about the film?
Dashcam is to HOST what Evil Dead 2 is to Evil Dead. It’s a loud, funny, cartoonish follow up that cranks everything up to 11. It’s best watched drunk and with a crowd.

You have carried on a similar theme from Host, with the idea of live streaming, what other concepts does Dashcam play with?

This film takes place on a continuous livestream, complete with commenters giving their input on the proceedings.

Writing the live comments was fun, until they wasn’t. We worked on them while filming and got the crew involved. It was fun to troll through the worst of the internet for inspiration also. In the end, it came down to a week long bender where me and producer Douglas Cox timed all 6,000+ of them out. All the characters had to be consistent, we had to clear the icons. Dan Hawkins, our GFX artist, had to create a program from scratch to integrate them all because it was too much information for the system to handle. It was a total head fuck.

Did you feel a certain pressure working on this film after the monumental success of Host?

We actually ended up shooting the film in 2020, just 3 months after Host came out, so it was too quick to feel any pressure. DASHCAM is such a different beast from HOST, there was definitely an element of wanting to take people by surprise with something totally unexpected. I wanted to show people that we aren’t ever going to repeat ourselves – I’ve got a bucket list of different horror films I want to do. I’ve always wanted to do a creepy woods movie like The Blair Witch Project. I also always wanted to do an over the top, 80’s sequel style movie. Like Evil Dead 2, Hellraiser 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. We were on our best behavior with Host, making something more creepy and subtle, like Paranormal Activity. With Dashcam we wanted to make a full on splatter-movie. Something loud and obnoxious. Everything that Host wasn’t. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was the movie I was always coming back to. The tone, goofiness, over the top-ness, reliance on gory, practical effects. We wanted to go the opposite way of Host on all of this. So I ticked splatter-movie off my horror bucket list.

UK audiences finally get to see the film soon, is this best enjoyed on the big screen?

Absolutely, Dashcam was made to be watched on the big screen. While I think Host really benefited from being watched at home, under a blanket, on your couch or laptop, Dashcam benefits from being watched with a huge, rowdy crowd that’s yelling at the screen, having a bunch of drinks, throwing popcorn, and freaking out.

You have started working with Blumhouse too, has all this been hard to take in, especially during a pandemic?

Dashcam really felt like a student film in the best possible way. We got a tiny bit more money than we had for Host, but a lot of it went to Covid Health & Safety, so it wasn’t that different. We really tried to put every penny on screen and keep our crew very small – both for Covid reasons and so we could be mobile.

What are you working on next?

Stephen King’s The Boogeyman. Gulp. It’s coming together really beautifully. The thing that’s making this movie such a joy is the people. We had such great teams on Host and Dashcam and we managed to find incredible collaborators on The Boogeyman. A beautiful, amazing cast that did incredible work. It’s nice to have a movie like Boogeyman that I developed for years and methodically put together whereas Host and Dashcam were sprints – both made very fast.

Dashcam is available now in selected UK cinemas plus VOD platforms.

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