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SXSW 2022: Found Footage Film ‘Deadstream’ Delivers the Perfect Balance of Laughs and Scares

Headstream SXSW
Credit: Jared Cook

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When a washed up internet star tries  to win back followers by staying the night in a haunted house, he accidentally pisses off a demonic spirit and his big comeback becomes a fight for his life. ‘Deadstream,’ directed by Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter, is a refreshing and hilarious take on the paranormal investigation genre. Set in a haunted house in the middle of the woods, the ‘Blair Witch’ vibes are alive and well without the nausea of the shaky cam.

 

The horror comedy genre has a special place in the hearts of many and ‘Deadstream’ definitely deserves a place at the table. Director Joseph Winter, who also stars as “Wrath of Shawn” hilariously delivers as a YouTube personality trying to make a comeback after being canceled. All he wants to do is prove that he still has what it takes to win over his viewers and more importantly, his sponsors. His show “Wrath of Shawn” is based around Shawn doing all of the things he fears for likes and comments and most importantly sponsorships. For his big comeback he agrees to face his biggest fear, ghosts, and decides to spend the night alone in a well known haunted house. After locking himself in the house, he gets more than he bargains for.

 

As he tries to navigate through the home, we get a history of the home and glimpses of ghost sightings found by other people. As well as pro tips like “Duct tape can fix anything.” The setting is creepy. As Shawn is putting up cameras around the house you find yourself looking around the room for any sign of paranormal activity like you are watching the latest episode of Ghost Adventures.

 

The best part about this film is that it’s not your typical found footage scary movie. This film is “streaming live” so the audience gets to see it in real time which creates another dimension to the movie. As Shawn walks around the house he gets to interact with his viewers and we get to see what his viewers have to say in “real time”. The live stream viewers are a character all their own and add another level of comedy to the movie. You won’t be disappointed reading the comments.


Although the ‘Deadstream’ is really funny it is not short on jump scares and intense moments. Very rarely does a film get me and I jumped a couple of times. Which I loved because I personally live for those moments. Combining creepy moments of ghost manifesting without Shawn noticing with the comedy of his viewers literally trying to tell him to turn around really work throughout the movie. You will be laughing one second and jumping the next. The setting of the house is great too. Whether it was already an abandoned house or a set that was built,  it was really well done. I found myself trying to read all of the graffiti and trying to catch as much of the house as I could. Every room was unique and had so much going on. The special effects are really well done. I’m a sucker for practical effects and Troy Larson and Mikaela Kester knock it out of the park. The ghosts are creepy and disgusting and sometimes really funny.

 

Jospeh Winter, Shawn, really steals the show. As the main character and really the only character we see most of the time, his interaction with his go pro cameras, and his fans are great. He’s so whiny and although you want to hate him you want to root for him too. The interaction with the livestream viewers is spot on to what we see during a livestream in our every day lives. His interaction is sometimes subtle but if you are paying attention its really funny, witty and smart. I found myself wanting to read every comment and eagerly awaiting Shawn’s response.

 

‘Deadstream’ is a SXSW favorite in my book. It’s smart and refreshing and definitely a must see! Shudder has picked it up to be streaming at a later date. Do yourself a favor and put it on your radar. You won’t be disappointed!

 

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