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Review: ‘Deadstream’ Is a Pulse-Pounding Cautionary Tale of Chasing Social Media Fame

4.5 out of 5 stars

mildred looking nasty as hell in Deadstream

First off, the smart thing to do is NOT stay the night at a haunted/ugly-ass house. But if you’re an influencer who is desperate to repair what people think of them, it’s the perfect opportunity! Rather than genuinely apologize and hope people haven’t written you off. Influencer culture has created a lot of monsters, or at least encouraged already shitty people. To be forced to follow an irritating and overall horrible person like Shawn (co-writer Joseph Winter) is literally like scrolling social media.

Deadstream (2022) is a found footage horror comedy that follows Shawn Ruddy, who is a supposed influencer/YouTuber that no one can stand anymore. Just like so many of them, he did some awful stuff and people wrote him off. After a failed apology video (cringy that he even recorded one), he must now scramble to get big again, leading him to go to a haunted house and record ghosts for a livestream—which naturally leads to him having to fight for his life, found footage style.

All of the warning signs are there even as Shawn arrives, yet he chooses to ignore them in favor of getting famous again. That’s something that’s so profoundly accurate in our world. People will do damn near anything to get famous or go viral, at least, so there’s no stretch in terms of someone like Shawn going somewhere that disgusting. And believe me, it’s very disgusting. The house is run down, there are used needles, and it’s in need of a deep clean. Of course, Shawn doesn’t care enough, destroys something he shouldn’t, and sets up his cameras in various places around the house, which is handy later on.

The arrival of Chrissy (Melanie Stone) is sketchy, but the actress delivers such a quirky performance, and her presence is very much needed. Shawn’s annoying behavior is only tolerable enough. Still, things go wrong (as any true horror fan would expect) and Shawn is forced to deal with his situation. He doesn’t grab a boomstick or anything, so thumbs down on the lack of fun weapons until the end. What he does do is turn to the internet for help. Without them, he wouldn’t have known anything. Does he make it out? I won’t spoil that for you.

If this weren’t found footage, it would have a different feeling to it. The imperfect camera angles, the camera shaking as Shawn runs, and more make it such a pulse-pounding experience. We’re forced to wait to see the dangers. Mostly everything is shown as Shawn is experiencing it, and waiting to see those ugly ghosts is nerve racking. The makeup team and whoever was in charge of prosthetics, kudos to them!

Overall, it’s a good time with effective scares and gives us something to meditate on regarding social media fame. Again, I must encourage you to subscribe to Shudder if you haven’t already. You’ll be able to watch this and other great horror.

(featured image: Shudder)

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Vanessa Maki is a writer, visual artist & blk feminist. Her work has appeared in Pink Advocate, The Gay Gaze, & many others. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.