deadstream | joseph winter | vanessa winter | melanie stone | jason k. wixom | ghost | ghosts | haunted | haunted house | found footage | comedy | united states | united kingdom | pat barnett | marty collins | perla lacayo | cylia austin-lacayo | hayden gariety
Directors: Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter
Writers: Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter
Starring: Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone and Jason K. Wixom
This is one that I was intrigued to check out as I heard positive things about it through podcasts. It came out around the same time as V/H/S/94. It seemed that most that watched both preferred this one. That made it go on a list of movies to check out now that I’m doing last minute watches for my end of year list.
Synopsis: a disgraced internet personality attempts to win back his followers by livestreaming one night alone in a haunted house. But when he accidentally upsets a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life.
The personality from the synopsis is Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter). He had a large following and even sponsors. He made videos that ruined him though. Part of it was that people got hurt. He also was lying in what he was doing as well. At the time that we meet him, he is working on his big comeback. His idea is to go to a haunted house and livestream over a night. The place he is going is called Death Manor. He makes a comment about it being the most haunted place that he can film in.
Upon arriving, he fills us in on the history of the place. It was built for a woman named Mildred who was a spinster. Her father was rich and it was thought he was enticing someone to marry her by giving her this house. She liked to write poetry and was even going to marry a publisher. He died unexpectedly though. Since then, there have been mysterious deaths of children in the nursery. There is also an entity referred to as the Corner Man in one of the bedrooms.
Shawn arrives and sets the place up so he cannot flee. This is like him removing his spark plugs and throwing them into the woods. He also padlocks the door shut. He explores the house and sets up cameras as he goes. He settles in for the night, getting spooked with things that happen. It takes an odd turn when a ‘superfan’ shows up by the name of Chrissy (Melanie Stone). Shawn gets the night he dreamed off, but it turns to a nightmare as he must decide between the comeback he wants and surviving.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Something that I didn’t set up in my opening thoughts is that this is a found footage movie. This works in the confines. My issue tends to be, why are they still filming? Shawn thinks he needs this. He is a millennial that based his life around this as his career so if it fails, he has nothing. Going along with this idea, the cameras are attached to him. He cannot put them down so that makes it more believable for me. This had me on board from the beginning.
Now with that established, I want to go to the story. I give credit here as well since this is simple. We set up that Shawn is a vlogger. He was successful and then ran into a wall with the content he was putting out. He is now trying to get back there. He decides to go to a haunted house and film what happens. To make things more exciting, he takes items that he thinks will upset ghosts or rile them up at the least. This includes doing a séance, having a Ouija board and bringing holy water. This isn’t doing anything new. We’ve seen things like this in the past. Regardless, I think that this works and I’ll get into why next.
It is the acting. Shawn is a guy that in real life would annoy me. How Winter plays it though is great. There is something there that just makes me like him. He has an odd charisma, but he also is anxious. He needs this to succeed so he is torn between surviving and continuing with what he is doing. I feel for the guy while also thinking that he’s an idiot. It is sad to see people that are watching mock him. Putting yourself out there like that does set you up for it as well though. I did want to credit Winter for his performance.
Shifting then back over to the story, this is smarter than I’ve given credit as well. I don’t want to spoil this movie since I think that it should be seen. Joseph and Vanessa Winter did something interesting with the story here. They’ve correlated what Shawn is doing with this entity from the past. We have a curse that is spread which is what Mildred is doing here. This reminded me of an exorcist movie that I enjoyed quite a bit that came out recently. I just like the idea of being famous and what the lengths people will go to obtain it. There is a variation here that is done through our hero and villain that I found creative.
Then I think the last things to go into would be with the filmmaking. I’ve already said that the found footage angle worked. Shawn sets up security cameras throughout the place. He also will mount it on items as well. There is also a set up where he always has a camera on his face that worked and one where he can see in front of him. The effects we get are also solid. There is CGI from what I’m guessing but I had no issues there. There is also a soundtrack. What is funny is that Shawn has this premade and plays it at different times. That adds to the realism we need to go along with the diegetic sound.
In conclusion, this is a solid movie that I’m glad I saw while making my end of year list. We have a simple story that works. The lore they incorporate worked for me. I didn’t even include the use of videos to fill in backstory and Shawn watching things sent to him to survive. Joseph Winter was good as our lead. I thought the acting around him was solid enough. The found footage take adds something for me and this is just a well-made movie. This won’t be for everyone, but if you like the premise then I’d say give it a go for sure.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10