Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Joseph Winter & Vanessa Winter.
Starring Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone, Jason K. Wixom, Pat Barnett.
Horror, USA, 87 minutes.

Reviewed as part of Arrow FrightFest ‘22

Streaming on Shudder from 6th October


You pull up YouTube and it seems no matter what your preference or viewing history there they are. That certain type of vlogger/influencer/reviewer who plasters their own mugging face all over their videos. That wide eyed and open-mouthed facial expression that lets you know what they thought of the latest Marvel movie trailer or a certain action-figure or whatever inane subject matter they can come up with, trawling for viewers, expanding their subscriber count and getting that all-important “like-button” “smashed.” You may be of the temperament that makes you want to smash something so instead of venting your energy in such a possibly harmful way you may find yourself better off with a viewing of DEADSTREAM, a smart, funny and scary look into what goes down when this type of person makes the completely sensible decision of locking himself into a haunted house overnight.


Co-director/co-writer/leading man/camera operator/composer Joseph Winter plays Shawn Ruddy, a vlogger and prankster who likes to take dares for challenges that are as inappropriate as they are daring, for his show Wrath of Shawn. The infantile and needy Shaun is desperate to regain his viewers and more importantly lucrative sponsorship after losing both over an unspecified recent incident. Thinking that spending the night in the infamous Death Manor, the most haunted house in America, will re-ignite his fame, the foolhardy vlogger disables his car and locks himself in the house with no means of escape. Live streaming to an audience Shawn soon finds himself in a battle for his very soul against a very vengeful and very cruel spirit.


Like the recent DASHCAM this places an unlikable protagonist front and centre with running commentary from his viewers on display, half of whom seem to delight in his misfortune. Unlike that love or hate film however, DEADSTREAM is a much more accessible piece of entertainment that accomplishes nearly as much in its critique of these digital exhibitionists. Smartly comparing the needs of the supernatural with those of online vloggers, Winter gets his point across in a manner that entertains on a number of levels while still delivering expertly executed shocks and scares which had the audience of its recent FrightFest midnight screening laughing and screaming in equal measure.


That all of this is delivered on a small budget is further testament to the skills of Winter and his wife who he co-wrote and co-directed with and the work of the crew involved. The special effects have an old-school quality to them that meshes well with the digital photography while the editing maintains the lightning-fast pace of Shaun’s journey into Hell, never shattering the illusion of its live as it happens nature. The end result comes across as something along the lines of Sam Raimi taking over the conclusion of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Winter should also be praised for his performance here too. His characters unlikable self-centred nature, which is also needy, delusional and opinionated, has you rooted against him from the start but there is still a likable puppy-dog like nature that wins you over as he tries to figure out a way from the insane situation he has gotten himself into.


The found footage genre has revitalised itself quite spectacularly over the last few years. DEADSTREAM is a prime example of this, standing alongside the likes of HOST, DASHCAM and even to an extent the forthcoming SOMETHING IN THE DIRT from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead which also impressed at this year’s FrightFest. The Winters expertly mix up various formats to deliver exposition and important story clues without you realising it because the results are so entertaining. What they could achieve in the future with a proper budget makes the promise of their future work very exciting indeed as what they have accomplished here is so impressively entertaining and scary already. It also contains the first cinematic instance of a ghost getting kicked in the nuts. Surely that alone is worth smashing the proverbial like button for.


Iain MacLeod


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans