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Deadstream (Shudder) Review: The Horrors of Online Desperation

Joseph and Vanessa Winter’s Deadstream is a manic and deranged found footage social media horror that’s as funny as it is horrifying.

The concept of karma and the consequences of our actions is one that now more than ever is prescient within the social media age. The rise of cancel culture has sent shockwaves online and has almost become a career path of its own. No matter what we say or do within the online space, there’s both fear and a sense of opportunity that comes from being “canceled” that many will take advantage of from both sides. In Deadstream, we see the story of one influencer whose cancellation only brings out the desperation and sadness that many of those like them have in the online world.

The film follows Shawn (Joseph Winter) a disgraced internet personality who loses everything after an incident of his own doing. After the dust settles and Shawn finally obtains the chance to be monetized again, he decides to spend a night at a haunted house and live stream the whole ordeal. What begins as a regular abandoned house however soon becomes more sinister and Shawn’s quest to regain his fame begins to take a potentially fatal direction. 

Deadstream is one of many films now releasing that takes aim at social media and the online age we live in. However, one point that the film succeeds at over others is the commitment to the satire and making everything feel as authentic as possible. As soon as Deadstream begins, we follow the character of Shawn as we see his online personality come to life through a youtube video that acts as a pitch perfect rendition of what you would usually see on the platform. Shawn is confident and optimistic yet also comes across as an incredibly sad and pathetic character to watch as this underlying sense of desperation makes itself known as he attempts to win back the fame he once had. As Shawn enters the haunted house, he deliberately sets out to remove avenues for help or escape so he can give his audience a cinematic experience no matter how dangerous it may be. Although for some this would show devotion to the craft of being an online personality, it shows just how idiotic this character is and, by extension, what the film is going for with its extremely silly and satirical nature.

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Joseph Winter as Shawn Ruddy in Deadstream (Shudder)

Deadstream, much like many other found footage films, takes its time to get to the thrilling stuff. With a runtime of around 90 minutes, it does admittedly find itself meandering at first as it takes on this slow crawl towards its demented finishline. However, once the film begins to pick up pace, it turns into a frantic and endlessly enjoyable cacophony of gore and amazing practical effects anchored by a committed performance from Joseph Winter. Deadstream rides the line with its protagonist where their idiocracy could become an annoying detriment to the film but the playful nature of its script makes them an absolute sadistic joy to watch. 

Deadstream is yet another entry to throw into the wonderful resurgence of the found footage subgenre. The film’s mix of inspired frightening horror and playful social media satire makes for a tasteful blend that comes together incredibly well even during its weaker moments in the middle chunk. Joseph and Vanessa Winter have come to Deadstream with a statement that they are two more voices that are downright essential to keep an eye on if you are an enjoyer of found footage. It may not convert those completely against the usual conventions of the subgenre but it conjures up a great reason as to why it can be an absolute joy to watch if done right

Deadstream will be released on Shudder on October 6, 2022.

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