#chadgetstheaxe | travis bible | kemerton hargrove | michael bonini | taneisha figueroa | spencer harrison levin | found footage | united states | cult | ritual | jerilyn armstrong | brandon doyle | eric gibson | shun hagins | terry j. nelson | aleigh porter
Director: Travis Bible
Writers: Travis Bible and Kemerton Hargrove
Starring: Michael Bonini, Taneisha Figueroa and Spencer Harrison Levin
This is a movie that I got the chance to see via screener thanks to Emma from Entertainment Squad. Knowing that this was a 2023 release horror film was enough for me. Plus, I like to support independent cinema when able. Something that piqued my interest even more was knowing that Duncan from the Podcast Under the Stairs along with the Baz had seen this at Glasgow Frightfest. They both were positive about it so that helped as well.
Synopsis: four social media influencers live stream their trip to Devil’s Manor, former home to a satanic cult.
We start this off with a livestream for Spicy Steve (Michael Bonini). He is exploring an old paper mill that is supposed to be haunted by a former employee who was a janitor. He gets more than he bargained for in the bathroom as he is the butt of a prank from a bigger streamer. This is Chad (Spencer Harrison Levin).
To make up for it, the duo is going to team up to go to Spicy Steve’s hometown and explore Devil’s Manor. They’re being joined by a team that goes by Spennifer. They are Jennifer (Taneisha Figueroa) and Spencer (Cameron Vitosh). The history of this place is that a cult, led by Burrows, operated here. They sacrificed countless people in different parts of the house and the nearby swamp.
What makes matters worse is that this house is in the middle of nowhere. There doesn’t seem to be power and it isn’t in the best shape. While we are here, we get to know our group more. Chad will do whatever it takes for viewers and is a jerk. Spicy Steve is caught between doing what is right and fame. Jennfier and Spencer aren’t as good as you’d think from their videos. She also wants a taste of what Chad has with his stream popularity. Their minor issues though pale in comparison with what they find.
It starts with a dead body hanging in the attic. When members of the group disappear as do their cellphones, they’ll need to face the ultimate decision. Survive or be famous.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. I figured I’d go a bit lighter here since this doesn’t have the deepest story. It also doesn’t need it. It is more about getting to know our group, them interacting with the comments on their stream and trying to deal with not losing viewers. It is an interesting look at surviving this ordeal and what that could mean for the best video they’ve ever had by the numbers. I think this is a great look at this generation.
What I will say is that this isn’t a new take on the found footage sub-genre. I heard from Duncan and Baz that this felt a lot like Spree. That is a great comparison and one that I thought too. It also reminds me of Deadstream as well. What makes all three of this work is that we have a ‘likable’ or ‘hate-able’ lead. What I mean there is that I dislike all three of them, but I’m invested in what happens. The case here is that we have four to work with. I like Spicy Steve. He is caught between growing like Chad and sticking to his morals. I get that feeling. Chad is horrible to me. Not the performance, but just the persona he gives off. He feels like the worse version of the lead from Deadstream. Jennifer is another one that I like and Spencer is someone I don’t hate, but he feels wooden. What I’ll say is that none of the performances are bad. They fit what was needed so credit to Bonini, Levin, Figueroa and Vitosh.
Now let me get to the true horror elements. We have this group doing a ‘ghost hunter’ investigation type show. They aren’t using tools or technology. If anything, they are there to make bad jokes and just see what happens. They’ve all done things on streams where they deserve something bad to happen to them. Not what they get here, but something. There was a cult that operated here. I’m not entirely sure if this is a supernatural movie or not. We know early on that they’re not alone in this place. Bad things then start to happen. There is a tiny line that is dropped by Jennifer that makes me think this is grounded. Regardless of whether what they encounter is supernatural or not, it was effective.
I think the rest of the things to go into are dealing with filmmaking. I’ll briefly say the other cast members are solid for what was needed. They aren’t much more than cameos. What they do is help progress the story which works. I do think having this livestream take on the found footage film is an interesting one. It keeps my attention trying to what is happening as well as reading the comments. Those also help to move the story and give bits of information. One that always caught my attention was MurderMaven. He seems to be a true crime podcaster. I wondered throughout if he knew something more. If you don’t like shaky cameras, this might bother you. Keep that in mind. Other than that, the soundtrack fit what was needed.
In conclusion, I rather enjoyed my time here. This is another take on the livestream found footage subgenre. It feels like movies that came before it while doing their own thing. Even if I don’t necessarily like all the characters, I think the performances are perfect. They feel like the characters so credit to Bonini, Levin, Figueroa and Vitosh again. I think that this is a well-made movie. It is a balancing act to keep the filming style while also ensuring that we get to see enough. I rather enjoyed this and thought it was a solid installment to these types of movies. I’d recommend it.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10