December 9, 2023

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The footage found has been in horror since the 1980s, but didn’t explode in popularity until the late 2000s after paranormal activity films. Soon after, the “screenlife” sub-genre emerged to life, telling stories without leaving the computer screen. And by the end of the 2010s, we have yet another iteration of the footage we found: live stream movies. Deadstream, the first feature from the writing and directing team of Thomas and Vanessa Winter, falls into this final camp.

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The film follows YouTuber Sean Rudy (Thomas Winter), who we learn has recently experienced controversy and is now returning to the public eye. Sean’s show is based on facing his fears, and on his return he will spend a night in a haunted house.

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medium specification

From its first moments, Deadstream is incredibly specific about its medium, starting with a YouTube video announcement of the live stream event before bringing viewers to that live stream. The editing is frenetic in the early moments, and the screen fills with visual gags. It’s an incredibly high-energy introduction to the world of film which then moves to live streams that are even more disturbing.

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He spent a lot of time with Sean explaining how to set up the camera and how everything works. And that set dressing does a fantastic job of setting the rules and reality of the film. Especially as Sean points out that the cameras he’s installing throughout the house are motion activated, and (a big problem with many footage films) admits he created a scary score that he sometimes streams. will play during

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But the medium specificity extends beyond the formal elements of film. Winter totally rides the line between flashy and annoying, which seems to be the sweet spot for many YouTube creators. And the story rests on going too far with one of his videos, something that is sadly too real for many creators.

It is not necessary to make a believable movie about people who make their money by creating video content. But it is plausible that vintners have made sure to portray ceremonial and cultural markers authentically.

What to do?

The logistical setup at the beginning of the film can be a bit tedious as it goes on for more than ten minutes. But with this Sean tells the story of the haunted house where he will stay for the night. He piecemeal tells the story of a young woman who writes poetry and seeks love before she sets her camera to death by suicide at home.

The fact that the house is beautifully shabby (courtesy of production designer Amy Leah Nelson Smith) and makes every room look like it could have served as the setting for a snuff film, making this setup sequence effectively makes it unnecessary. And while the maiden story isn’t original, it totally sets the tone for the horror.

But once the story is told and the cameras are installed, Deadstream stops a bit. You can almost feel like the movie is deciding which plot hits to hit next and how this classic premise will extend to feature length this time around.

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Luckily the film doesn’t spend too much time just waiting for something scary to happen and neatly folds into its obvious horror half. The film’s back half has surprising practical effects, some really surprising twists, some effective jump scares, and at least one laugh-out-loud funny joke. But it has a completely different feeling from the first half.

The start of the live stream is atmospheric and disturbing as we explore the house and worry about ghosts appearing. But as the film progresses, it draws closer to Sam Raimi’s first two Evil Dead films. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering that the film works in both modes, and the fact that this twist is unexpected is something to celebrate. But it does make Deadstream feel a little uneven.

It draws you into its environment and ghost stories from the late 19th century; Sean at one point even says, “I feel like I’m in The Ring,” and we totally understand why. But a shift to a more chaotic and comedic style in the latter part of the film leaves that atmosphere behind, and it feels like an unfulfilled promise.

Deadstream is a fun horror movie, but it’s not scary after the first half hour. While both the fun and the scare are great, the fact that Deadstream only delivers one type of horror to trade it for another feels a little disappointing. It’s a solid entry in its sub-genre and is undoubtedly worth looking out for any fan of creative footage films, but it won’t convert anyone to the medium.

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6.5/10 Specification

Deadstream is now streaming on Shudder.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Kyle Logan studied philosophy and now consistently overtakes music and movies.

He is a film and television critic and general pop culture writer who has written for Cultural Vulture, Chicago Film Scene, Castle of Chills and Filmotomy. Kyle has covered virtual film festivals including the inaugural Nightstream festival in 2020 and the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival. Kyle is interested in horror films, animation, Star Wars and Adventure Time, as well as older genre films written and directed by queer people and women, especially those from the 1970s and ’80s. In addition to writing, Kyle organizes a queer film challenge on letterbox.

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