By David Baldwin
Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) is an online influencer and streamer who is left in ruins after uploading a controversial video. Wanting to get back into the public’s good graces, Shawn decides to livestream his visit to an abandoned haunted house where real murders have taken place. He locks himself in for the night, sets up his cameras and waits for something to happen. When he accidentally pisses-off the vengeful spirit that inhabits the home, he must find a way to survive by any means necessary.
Watching a Film play out in the same way you may watch an influencer’s videos on YouTube and Twitch may seem like a less than riveting experience. Yet by tapping into and satirizing that visual language while employing the bloody gross out gags of low-budget ’80s Horror films, the Writing/Directing/Editing team of Winter and Vanessa Winter have created a film that needs to be seen to be believed. Ruddy is an extremely annoying character (think of a personality along the lines of Jake and Logan Paul) who becomes rather insufferable as the Film sets all the pieces in motion in real time. Thankfully, you are not so much watching him in these early scenes so much as you are watching the Winters edit a cohesive picture together using various platforms and cameras. It feels like a genuine evolution of the style we have seen in Horror films like Unfriended and Host, but instead of static cameras staying put, we are getting first person movements along the lines of a Hardcore Henry. The Film even employs some video game language and motifs to assist with some of the action.
Once Ruddy pisses off the spirit, all bets are off and the Film becomes one hilarious and obnoxiously bloody gag after the other in the vein of the early gonzo horror flicks by Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. Winter’s Ruddy even seems to be aping some of the hallmarks of Bruce Campbell’s legendary performance as Ash Williams in many of these scenes, and becomes a whole lot more tolerable than he was satirizing real-life streamers. He leans in wonderfully into the Physical Humour and the jump scares, and really lends to how captivating DEADSTREAM quickly becomes. While the creature effects are a bit too crude and cheaply done, the gore and makeup effects are top-notch. I had a lot of fun watching this one, and can only imagine how much more entertaining it would have been with a crowd.
DEADSTREAM screens at SXSW ‘22 as follows:
Friday, March 11 at 11:45PM EST – Alamo Lamar E
Monday, March 14 at 3:00PM EST – Stateside Theatre
Tuesday, March 15 at 8:30PM EST – Alamo Lamar E
Wednesday, March 16 at 10:45PM EST – Alamo Lamar E
Saturday, March 12 at 10:00AM EST – Available for 48 Hours