A disgraced internet personality attempts to win back his followers by livestreaming one night alone in a haunted house. But when he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life.

Editing: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Joseph Winter

Cast: Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone, Jason K. Wixom, Pat Barnett, Marty Collins

Directors: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Writers: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Cinematography: Jared Cook

I have such a love/hate affair with found-footage films. I can watch something like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, or Creep and appreciate each for using the format in different ways, while other films leave me bored in my seat. Deadstream fits in the list of the aforementioned good list of found-footage films. The film’s premise and use of the camera work so well, and it’s genuinely some of the most fun I’ve had watching a horror film in this format.

Joseph Winter co-writers, co-directs with his wife Vanessa Winter and stars as Shawn Ruddy, a disgraced Youtuber who is going to pull his craziest stunt yet to win back his fanbase and sponsorships. He’s the kind of Youtuber you see doing shock pranks to unsuspecting people on the street for views. Shawn isn’t a particularly likable person, but some of Deadstream’s and Joseph’s biggest success makes Shawn somewhat likable as the events of the film continue.

As a big comeback to win fans after doing a stupid stun that gets him “cancelled,” Shawn states in a video that his biggest fear is haunted houses, and so he’s going to lock himself in one for a whole night. As the opening of the film sets up, he literally locks himself away by throwing the spark plugs of his car into the bush and throwing his key into a drain as he makes his way into the house, locking himself inside with no quick or easy way out. As Shawn sets up the house’s history, showing us around, he also places GoPro cameras in each room, which he will use to track any ghostly movement. 

Of course, it doesn’t take too long for things to start getting creepy with plenty of jumpscares to be had. But there are also plenty of laughs with Shawn’s reactions, usually over the top in high-pitched sequels. His arguments with the streams chat over what is and isn’t real were all very funny to me, and if you’ve watched any degree of Youtube or Twitch streams, all of these interactions are sort of pitch perfect for the Content Creator to viewer communication. 

When the ghosts and ghoulies start showing up and things get bloody, it’s a ridiculous about of fun. Especially as nearly everything is done practically and to great effect. The creature designs were great and added a weird grounding element to a movie that is barely holding on to reality at times between the supernatural and Shawn’s personality.

I’ve watched Spree and a couple of other horror films where Content Creators are the target, but they never quite hit the mark. Deadstream gets everything right. The commentary on the culture is there in the background, and you join Shawn for a ridiculously wild ride. It’s a mix between Blair Witch and Evil Dead II; the scares come just as quick as the laughs.