Best described as a YouTube Evil Dead, Deadstream is the good version of that description, thanks to the endearing performance of co-director Joseph Winter and a winning mix of laughs and scares. Main character Shawn is both annoying and likeable and his reactions to his increasingly freaky situation get more than a few belly laughs. And then there are his self imposed restrictions like throwing the spark plugs from his car away so he can’t wuss out or his spinning wheel of stupid ideas to up the ante for his audience (Spirit Board! Seance!)
The idea of a Livestreamer going into a haunted house isn’t exactly original, but the way Shawn interacts with his viewers and responds to their criticism really lifts the film above others from this particular sun-genre, like the scene where he is taking a piss in a bucket (remember that bucket!) while his audience tries to tell to tell there is a ghost nearby. And when the shit really hits the fan and Shawn, the commenters are split between trying to help him and wanting him to die horribly - a perfect encapsulation of the online experience.
The filmmakers build the film for a good 45minutes or so, with ghostly visions and spooky noises before unleashing hell on the hapless Shawn, who ends up getting his crotch bitten, fingers chopped off and waterboarded with his own piss (that bucket!) all in the name of likes.
If one was to really dig into the ghosts and what their powers are, the story would probably fall apart; but if you can suspend your disbelief you’ll be in for a fun and frightful good time. A more serious version of this story would have felt dated (about ten years too late for the found footage heyday) and most probably insufferable in lesser hands.
Joseph and Vanessa Winter are in firm control of the wheels here and make good on the promise of a found footage Evil Dead, both through ghoulish gags and a genuinely creepy atmosphere. And the good news for fans of this film is they have a segment in V/H/S 99 due out later this month.
4 crotch-bites out of 5