‘Deadstream’ Movie Review [SXSW 2022]: Live Streaming Meets ‘Evil Dead’

The found-footage haunted house movie is becoming all too common. These movies need to have an edge to stick out from the rest but still deliver on horror audience expectations. Deadstream is the type of campy horror crowdpleaser that will undoubtedly be a cult favorite.

‘Deadstream’ takes live streaming into a haunted house

'Deadstream' Joseph Winter as Shawn Ruddy laying on the ground with a finger going up his nose
Joseph Winter as Shawn Ruddy | Jared Cook/SXSW

Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) is an Internet personality who is always looking for the next big stunt to live stream. However, a public controversy makes him lose everything. Now, he wants to win back his adoring following and sponsorships by tackling his biggest fear: the paranormal.

Deadstream finds the live-streamer preparing to spend a night alone in an abandoned haunted house. However, Shawn accidentally angers a vengeful spirit, which turns his night of fun into a fight for his survival. He’s in way over his head, as he begins to rely on his followers for help in enduring the night.

Writer/directors Joseph and Vanessa Winter serve ‘Evil Dead’ vibes

Shawn is the stereotypical type of obnoxious live streaming personality that one would expect. He’s vain, narcissistic, and believes that the rules of society don’t apply to him. However, these online influencers certainly exist and have large followings. Shawn is often a bit grating, but he’s written appropriately and it allows him to make the mistakes that make it plausible for why he can’t simply leave the house.

Deadstream finds the protagonist arriving at the abandoned building called “Death Manor.” He intentionally doesn’t give himself an easy way out, taking away his own access to the car and locking himself inside of the building. The Winters instill consistent comedic jabs at the found-footage and haunted house movies, including the typical tacky opening title card and how he places cameras around the location to capture the paranormal activity.

Death Manor brings a whole history with it. Each room has a history with its own horror stories, some that are more chilling than others. However, they each provide a different flavor of the paranormal as Shawn moves through the house. Deadstream brings it up a level with “stupid” games that Shawn brings to further agitate the spirits, making for a truly wild and exciting horror experience that isn’t afraid to be silly.

‘Deadstream’ is a major cult crowdpleaser

The Winters fully lean into its found-footage aesthetic and discovered a way to make it believable as to why the character doesn’t just turn off the camera when things turn sour. Deadstream plays by its own rules, even using Shawn’s music for the live stream as a score for the film. The Winters embrace physical effects, although the low-budget certainly comes across with some makeup and prosthetics that leave something to be desired.

The entities of Deadstream come across more like Deadites from Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead mixed with a tad of the tone from Ghost Encounters, rather than the typical ghost. However, this allows for a far greater amount of physicality, which the film relies on. Deadstream almost entirely takes place within the confines of the haunted house and the space just outside. As a result, this utilizes every square foot of this space to unleash its horror and comedy.

The Winters’ horror film does require its audience to put up with a protagonist who becomes a bit shrill. However, those who are willing to go with this self-aware horror movie will have a blast doing so. There are good scares, plenty of laughs, and a few gross-out moments. Deadstream is the definition of a major cult crowdpleaser.

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