One of the more surprising found footage films in years, “Deadstream” offers a solid mix of genuine scares and laughs, making it a delight.
Trying to get over a massive scandal, online vlogger Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) decides to resurrect his shattered image by doing a livestream at a particular house rumored to be haunted. After setting everything up and starting on his mission, he is soon interrupted by Chrissy (Melanie Stone), a self-proclaimed superfan trying to be noticed and accepted by him.
The longer they stay, though, Shawn finds the haunted nature of the building more than he bargained for, forcing him and his uninvited guest to shift their focus to simply trying to get out alive.
It’s a stellar setup from co-writers and directors Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter that really pays off with effective scares, thanks to an immersive and genuinely unnerving atmosphere.
As they move through the house, we learn about the various exploits that happened there throughout the location’s tortured history. Bolstered by the found-footage livestream format creating a sense of authenticity, the setting is perfectly creepy with its darkened hallways, decayed furniture, and crumbling structure.
This is enhanced by the goofiness featured during the later investigation scenes. The amusing and infectiously lighthearted tone created by Shawn’s childish antics and constant quips to the fans watching his exploration live help to draw us in while disarming us and ramping up the impact of later frights.
Once Chrissy barges in and insists on joining the investigation, the two have great chemistry that makes the proceedings much more engaging.
Shawn becomes reluctant to do anything outrageous compared to Chrissy, who is more outgoing and adventurous. But that sense of adventure eventually leads to paranoia once the killer twist is revealed, propelling us into the film’s manic finale.
The back half of the film changes course wildly, and we are treated to one of the more inventive and original takes on the found footage genre as we discover the unexpected source of the disturbing events.
My only criticism, and it’s a small one, is that the latter part of Deadstream leading up to the climax can feel like it drags a bit and is being stretched to pad the runtime.
But that minor quibble is quickly nullified by a thrilling finale that delivers impressive confrontations and stunt work.
It’s the perfect blend of humor and horror that’s so rarely executed this effectively.
With far more to appreciate than critique, Deadstream is easily one of the more enjoyable and engaging efforts in the found footage/social media horror subgenre.