Delightful Found Footage Horror Comedy Deadstream (2022) Follows a Spiraling YouTuber
First Non-Festival Release: October 6, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Writer: Vanessa Winter, Joseph Winter
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Starring: Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone, Jason K. Wixom
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Returning from his hiatus after getting cancelled for previous videos infamous streamer, Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) is back at his antics again when he decides to livestream himself breaking into a haunted house. The rules are simple: he must stay in the house through the night and must investigate every noise he hears. All his preparation is for nothing when he discovers that Chrissy (Melanie Stone) has found him shortly after he arrives. He reluctantly agrees to let her accompany him on the stream at the request of his audience. Things go south when he disturbs the very spirit he is seeking out in the crumbling house.
Uproarious comedy and gross-out horror make for a winning combination in over-the-top found footage film Deadstream.
When people talk about found footage, they always make it a point to say there are so few ideas left out there. Then, multiple films are released that same year defying that logic. Deadstream is one of several fantastic offerings from 2022 to prove this phenomenon. Unravelling a paranormal mystery under the guise of an exaggerated haunted house livestream makes for plenty of hijinks in this fun and frightful horror comedy. Shawn is put through the ringer, both in person and online, when he stumbles upon truly sinister stuff at the old Pratt mansion. The plot isn’t groundbreaking but the riffs on social media and influencer culture are fresh enough to supply plenty of laughs and a handful of scares too.
By the time Deadstream reveals its cards behind Shawn, it hits its stride in humor. The jokes land fantastically as the film rips into the blissfully unaware and provocative figures that lead internet culture. Shawn’s lack of understanding not only lands him in the situation but makes for some excellent moments of karmic justice and laughs at the expense of similar figures outside of the film.
The film rests on the shoulders of Joseph Winter since the camera focuses on Shawn about 90% of the time. Thankfully, he is adept at playing the arrogant and goofy Youtuber without self-awareness. He has a particular talent for hamming up Shawn’s over-the-top reactions in the first half before switching over to real terror in the second half. The difference is subtle but an impressive one to note, as it elevates Shawn’s character as he gradually accepts his mistakes, makes attempts at accountability, and takes ownership of his decisions.
While irritating characters can be tough for audiences to swallow, Deadstream makes the conscious choice to make things difficult for Shawn. He doesn’t have an easy out and both literally and metaphorically, he does it to himself. In the beginning, he makes many choices setting up his haunted house escapades that make his chances of survival slimmer. This relates closely with his earlier decisions that lead to him being cancelled and demonetized. He only has himself to blame for his actions. Thankfully, he does learn from this, in a way, and seek guidance and support from others to avoid a perilous fate.
It cannot go without saying that Melanie Stone’s delicious portrayal of Chrissy is just as impressive. She is equally mysterious as she is bubbly before turning into something completely different in the second half of the film. Stone doesn’t get as many moments to shine, but when she is onscreen, she averts some of the attention away from the flashy influencer enough for the story to work its magic.
Altogether, this is a light horror film that is as well-made as it is entertaining. Impressive effects work make the situation feel real despite its otherworldly implications. From giant rats to sunken faces and self-inflicted wounds, Deadstream continually impresses with its creative vision. The house mixes the creepiness of something lived in with the mundane horrors of something left abandoned and at the mercy of bored and desperate people. Graffiti, used heroin needles, and decaying appliances help build the unsettling ambiance that permeates the film.
One of the biggest draws to Deadstream is its commitment to the livestream storytelling of Shawn. It is editing just like the videos of the most irritating streamers in real-life, bringing authenticity to the way that these creators work. Bright, brassy, and, above all, memorable, these moments serve to integrate the viewer into the world of Shawn and get them to believe they are watching a final broadcast.
Horror films with unlikable protagonists are always difficult to recommend. Many viewers will write off the experience due to their desire of avoiding various personalities. This reviewer humbly asks you to push that feeling aside and check out Deadstream anyway. Shawn may embody the worst of the YouTube generation, but it makes for some hilariously karmic moments that appropriately batter him up for the years of abuse he puts onto others. Aside from the sheer joy of watching his beat downs, it is a slick and well-produced found footage flick full of great effects, effective scares, and unique lore. What are you waiting for? Like, share, and subscribe if you are ready for the best livestream horror of the year.
Overall Score? 7.5/10