As the world of cinema and television continues to evolve, other visual mediums have broken through the mainstream. The rise of YouTube, Twitch, and Vlogger culture has invented a new visual language for delivering information and comedy. While some resist the style and trends of these sites, they have caught on with audiences in a significant way. For many young viewers, the influencer/vlogger visual style is more pervasive than the visuals of classic cinema. For this reason alone, Deadstream by directors Joseph and Vanessa Winter taps into the zeitgeist in a way few would expect. Combining the gore of horror comedies, the scares of found footage, and the comedic stylings of vloggers, Deadstream makes for a surprisingly fun combination.
After an incident gets him thrown off his platform of choice, vlogger Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) needs to get his audience back. To attract attention, he decides to stay in a haunted house for the night. However, when he gets into the house, he realizes he’s gone to the wrong house.
Most of the film relies on its format, but the Winters showcase their expertise in the genre. They’ve clearly done their research to know what kinds of scares work with found footage. They impress with jump scares that genuinely come when you least expect them, as well as some brilliant sound work. Unlike many films of its ilk, Deadsteam uses tablets, digital cameras, and the internet to its advantage. Additionally, the creature and monster design create spine-chilling moments from the sheer visual craft.
What truly makes Deadstream soar is its use of humor. Not only do they allow the Shawn character to deliver dumb dad jokes at a good clip, but they let the ghosts be funny as well. There’s also a fair bit of visual humor on display, which pushes the limits of gore-based laughter. The balance owes quite a bit to Dead Alive and Evil Dead, but the jokes are still topical to the genre on display.
Joseph Winter also deserves props for his performance. There’s enough charm to get on his side, but he also plays into the stereotypes of popular vloggers. You can directly track elements of the performance to individual YouTubers, but the character on screen feels unique enough in his own right.
Blending new technology with traditional horror comedy scares, Deadstream scores as a wildly entertaining film. It’s rare to find horror comedies quite as adept as Deadstream, but this far exceeds the quality of similar films like Dashcam. With brilliant scares and even better laughs, the film does an excellent job serving two masters. This is a gem and a must-watch for horror fans.
Alan’s Rating: 8/10
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Deadstream is currently streaming on Shudder.
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