I’m not intentionally watching a bunch of horror films because it is the season, it may just seem that way. I went back to Shudder for a film that I had seen commented about on Twitter, but hadn’t seen anything else about. It was called Deadstream and it was a joy.
Disgraced YouTube influencer Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) was hoping to regain his reputation by facing one of his major fears: ghosts. To do so, he went to a haunted house to spend a night livestreaming onto the internet. Shawn found that there were more in this house than he would have hoped.
This is a found footage horror film that emulates the concept of a livestream, something that has been a huge piece of the current culture. Deadstream, despite the fact that it brings out some ghosts and horrors, is a broadcast that I could actually see happen in the real world. My guess is that there are podcasts or livestreams happening right now that deal with the paranormal that would be just like this one (minus the actual ghosts, of course). By using this, the film is able to comment on the culture of YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and all of the other social media outlets that allow such a platform.
It also can comment on the rules of the videos that might lead to demonetizing a post (such as excess swearing) or being struck with a copyright claim are real issues that creators on YouTube have to be aware of and having Shawn gripping about it, as well as asking people to like and subscribe, make this feel real.
The way the internet was watching everything happen too makes for an intriguing situation. Did anyone ever call for the police like Shawn had begged them to do? Sure, some of them provided videos to help out with knowledge, but there were several watching who believed that Shawn deserved what he was getting, that is was karma for his past sins.
Joseph Winter starred as Shawn, wrote and directed the movie too. He is fantastic through the whole of the film, having to carry most every minute. He shows his scummy side early, though one could argue that he was more ignorant than mean. His early screams over nothing was hilarious, but his continual panic as things got worse was great. Shawn absolutely went on a journey of self-realization by dealing with the horrors that he faced while learning about the social relevance of his platform.
This was hilarious. I laughed through the film, even when I was being grossed out by the blood or the other such fluids.
I really loved this movie. I was surprised how engaged I was with the story and with the character of Shawn, specifically because he was shown to be a pretty unlikable guy. Still, I was rooting for him to survive his encounter with the ghosts of the house. There may be a few plot holes (where did all the electricity come from?) but none of that bothered me as I watched this excellent and original found footage film that really felt like it could actually be on YouTube.