Dir. Joseph & Vanessa Winter
A disgraced livestreamer who makes videos where he faces his greatest fears decides to mount his comeback, starting with a haunted house that is a bit more than he expects.
I was a little late to this one, but it intrigued me from the first time I heard about it. I know that found footage has lost a lot of fans over the last couple of decades, but I fucking love them. There’s something about the shaky cam, the first-person POV, and the real-world aspect that really puts me right into the story. That doesn’t always mean that it’s scary: there are plenty of found footage movies that, like this one, utilize comedy to cut the scares like the world’s best whiskey mixer. While there are a ton of not-great FF films, more often than not I’m going to be entertained by what happens on-screen, so I guess I must just be the perfect market for a film like this. Needless to say, with that caveat out of the way and with my dedication to the genre fully exposed, I knew that I was in for a great time with this one and was not disappointed.
There’s a ton of legitimately funny humor, as this is most decidedly a horror comedy. There are plenty of scares as well, both jump and non-jump alike. While you won’t come away from this one with nightmares, it’s a perfectly fun movie that is a fantastic watch, a humorous jaunt through modern technology that is equal parts hilarious and disgusting. Director and star Joseph Winter kills it as Shawn Ruddy, the Twitch streamer who is recently re-monetized after running afoul of the internet mob. As fun as Shawn’s exploits are, he is equally annoying as all hell, a pitch-perfect portrayal of pretty much every social media star that I’ve ever come across. The setup of the film is near perfect, paralleling the ghost world with modern social media in a way that somehow makes sense.
I’m a huge fan of what Shudder does conceptually. For anyone who loves horror, it’s a great platform filled with genre gems and hits both new and old. However, I’ve seen a string of the Shudder Exclusives lately that I haven’t been a huge fan of, movies that for whatever reason were just not my cup of tea. Deadstream comes back with a vengeance, though, a film that I absolutely loved and thought hit the sweet spot of found footage horror comedy that is so rarely done well. There’s a reason why these streamers are so popular, despite their propensity to be the most obnoxious people on the internet, and Deadstream taps into that cultural zeitgeist impeccably. By not only addressing the subculture of streaming itself but also the pitfalls that so many of the streamers find themselves in, the film is actually a fascinating look at our culture as a whole, despite it’s comic facade.
I reviewed an indie film similar to this one called Into the Black Abyss: Deathstream, in which a Twitch streamer plays a mysterious game that unleashes a deadly cult. The two films were dissimilar enough that neither feels like a repeat or ripoff of the other, which is great for Into the Black Abyss because it would clearly come out on the losing end of a copyright strike. Both films are absolutely worth a watch, though Deadstream is certainly the more readily available title. Deadstream wears its inspirations well, with increasingly clear callbacks to The Evil Dead and other horror comedies. If you’re even the slightest fan of found footage horror or horror comedies in general, I highly recommend checking this one out.
Who this movie is for: Horror comedy fans, Found footage lovers, Pewdiepie
Bottom line: I really enjoyed this one, even more than I thought I would. Found footage horror comedy that carries as many scares as laughs, Deadstream is a near-perfect example of delivering exactly what is promised in a film. There are some truly frightening visuals, but actor/director Joseph Winter does a phenomenal job of carrying this entire film on his back, and the husband and wife team of Joseph and Vanessa Winter are newcomers to watch out for. Their V/H/S 99 segment wasn’t half bad either. Check both of them out on Shudder, you’ll be glad you did