Found footage is an acquired taste among horror fans. Some of us love it (meeee), and some of us absolutely detest it. The latter camp (even though they are utterly incorrect), often complains of low-level scares, not enough escalation with its horror elements, and being too stingy with its monsters.
Well, listen up haters.
Deadstream is none of those things. You don’t like The Blair Witch Project because it’s ‘three people walking around the woods for three days afraid of some branch figures’? (wrong.) You don’t like Paranormal Activity because ‘it’s night after night watching a door open or a sheet move’? (still wrong.) You don’t like REC because ‘the camera moves all over the place and I can barely see any of the monsters’? (so so wrong.) Well buckle up, buttercup. Deadstream is about to take paranormal found footage to wild new extremes – and dare I say, make a found footage fan out of you.
“..take[s] paranormal found footage to wild new extremes”
Written and Directed by Vanessa and Joseph Winter, Deadstream follows prank Youtuber Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) on his quest to win back the public after being disgraced and demonetized on the platform. After a no doubt profound apology video, Shawn’s back on the platform and ready to celebrate Halloween season with a bang; by livestreaming a full night spent alone in a haunted house.
To keep the view count growing, self-proclaimed scaredy-cat Shawn has set up some tantalizing ground rules.
- Provoke the spirits with his wheel of mischief – including a ouija board, a seance, and other paranormal instigators.
- He must investigate every paranormal experience. No matter how afraid he is, every sound, blip on the cameras, or apparition must be explored.
As Shawn explores his haunted home away from home (using a variety of found-footage approved surveillance cameras and body cams), he divulges the history of the home’s alleged ghosties to his live stream viewers. He uses a creative variety of multimedia sources for his storytelling; photographs, previous videography taken from other ghost hunters, auditory recordings, and the like. It keeps Deadstream’s both the real and fictional audiences engaged and entertained before the really spooky stuff ratchets up. (See found footage haters, no ‘boring ghostless bits’)
It isn’t long before pure chaos descends on Shawn’s livestream, giving both him and the viewers more than they bargained for. An apparition of Corner Man, a crazed fan of the show deciphering the house’s location and joining in on the fun (played by Melanie Stone), and the terrifying suicide of Mildred and her resulting haunting of the upstairs hall.
“..bulging at the seams with gross-outs, gore, and special effects”
Deadstream pulls no punches with its ghoulies. You won’t find many vaporous spirits here. The film is bulging at the seams with gross-outs, gore, and special effects. Each ghost is given its own lore, location, and terrifying moment in the spotlight. I wasn’t clickbaiting with my title; this film goes full Evil Dead II in the second half, so the squeamish should consider themselves warned.
The Stream is carried by its sole (for the most part) host Shawn, who nails that egomaniacal Youtuber personality so perfectly, he remains predominantly cringeworthy from beginning to end. This is either a perk or a fault depending on your level of Youtube adoration. I’m not really a Youtube fan myself, but I was a loyal follower of MTV’s reality ghosthunting series Fear ..so I tolerated the nonsense for the most part. Those unfamiliar with the shameless promotion, zingers, and lingo may find themselves on sensory overload, kind of like every time I try to find a gardening tutorial on youtube and end up with a headache, a dead plant, and being able to recite the top 10 poisonous plants South of the equator.
His narcissism does have its perks though. Maybe in the most meta found footage move ever, Shawn has made and brought his own spooky Halloween-inspired score to play under his terrifying storytelling, and as he explores the spooky, shadowy corners of rooms. It’s hilarious to watch a character in a found footage movie self-score the scenes, and totally annihilates any complaints I usually have about a found footage film having a score.
“.. a hilarious fright from start to finish.”
Deadstream is a novel take on paranormal found footage, taking the cake for its grossout ghouls, and inventive additions to a typically understated subgenre. A sensory assault of monsters and myths, it’s a hilarious fright from start to finish.
Deadstream celebrated its world premiere at SXSW 2022 in the Narrative Feature category. Check out more of our coverage of the 2022 SXSW film festival here. Let us know if you’re excited to check out Deadstream over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord!