Earlier this year, an indie flick arrived at the film festival circuit that became one of the biggest buzzes of the year. Husband & wife team Joseph & Vanessa Winters presented a fresh take that combined some of the best hits of the genre, taking primary influences from the found footage subgenre, the comedy of Sam Raimi, and a contemporary way to tell a story. It’s a very tight-knit film that was written and performed by the couple, and just oozes with the homegrown oeuvre.
“Deadstream” is the story of YouTube personality Shawn who was recently disgraced for a real life fuckup. He is primarily known as a prankster/stunt personality who is desperately trying to get his followers back on his side. His next idea? To lock himself in a notoriously haunted house for the entire night. He fills up the evening with pre-planned games and events that his followers are encouraged to throw upon him when desired. What starts as a creepy, dreadful time slowly walking around a decrepit house quickly turns into a spectacle full of specters, jumps, scares, and violence. There is also an absurd amount of humor that works effectively to compliment the horror in this sweet & savory concoction.
On paper this sounds like a pretty boring entry. We’ve seen all sorts of found footage films at this point, and it’s not the first to introduce the livestream perspective either, but this has a synergy behind the camera that works wonderfully. The script and events lack any real fat, the building is legitimately creepy, and the events are fun enough to not let the pot go cold. The addition of the chatroom that continues throughout the entire film is a nice touch that adds extra humor and chills by doing things such as typing “what was that on the bed?” before the camera even shows anything. It helps build anticipation, act as a relief at points, and keeps us engaged by mostly transmitting our thoughts right to the actors in the film.
It’s a really fun time that has a feeling that many horror fans were hungry for. It’s really no wonder this film was able to get such a powerful reputation so quickly.
The horror works. The comedy works. The entire composition works.
If I’m going to be the guy who doesn’t give this a flawless score, I’ll atleast admit what didn’t work for me. The main character of Shawn is realistic and engaging, but I had a hard time getting passed his voice and his constant screams. For being the character that entirely occupies the screen time, I had a bit of trouble wanting to root for him. HOWEVER, this is was my only real flaw. The rest of the film has enough fun, manic energy and serious scares to more than make up for this. But, I just wanted to give you some transparency. He is not NEARLY as grating of a character as, say, Annie from ‘Dashcam’, he’s actually rather likeable, but I kind of wished he was played by a real actor instead of being one of the director’s.
For all it has to offer, ‘Deadstream’ is 100% a great time that deserves to be seen. It’s a low budget debut that puts the love this family has for the genre entirely on display. They invite you in for a good time and make sure you are enjoying yourself from start to finish. The couple already has another big piece coming out literally tomorrow where they have a section featured in the brand new V/H/S entry (which I will be reviewing next week!), and I’m very excited to see what they grow into together.
“Deadstream” is currently streaming exclusively on Shudder.
‘Til Next Time,
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