Directors: Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter
Screenwriters: Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter
Starring: Joseph Winter and Melanie Stone
Cinematographer: Jared Cook
Internet personality and streamer Shawn Ruddy (Joseph Winter) is no stranger to controversy. After some questionable streaming decisions forced him to take a leave of absence, Shawn attempts to win back his followers. One half-assed apology later, he plans his next crazy streaming event. Shawn decides to film himself spending a night alone in an abandoned haunted house. But when he angers a vengeful spirit, Shawn’s comeback becomes a real-time fight for his life as he battles the sinister spirit.
Directing duo Vanessa and Joseph Winter drafts a streaming parody unlike anything I have seen before. The problem is their feature contains too much with little material. And the script doesn’t capitalize on the foundation that it laid out in its premise. Instead of being a humorous commentary on social media and streaming culture, the film becomes a flimsy attempt at spoofing live footage horror.
In the opening sequence of Deadstream, the filmmakers showcase a montage of streaming culture with faux social media personality Shawn Ruddy. Wearing his outrageous personality like a badge of honor, Shawn promises his followers a return to internet sensation. This sequence is as obnoxious as it sounds. And it’s certainly a drastic representation of who internet personalities are. This might have been the aim of screenwriters Vanessa and Joseph, but this film simply did not need it.
Part of my main problem with this satire effort is with Winter’s acting. This could have worked with anyone else as the streaming host. Joseph’s Shawn is overbearing and overreactive to say the least. His acting made this an exhausting watch. His character even uses pop culture references in moments where they don’t belong, which was downright annoying. Relying too heavily on attempting to be funny, Winter left his funny bone in either the writing room or rehearsals.
But when the film isn’t suffering from overacting overload, there are great highlights. For one, the “chat” on the livestream is an added benefit that brought incredible humor. Some of the commentary from the “audience” was better than the actual livestream. There’s also the back story to the haunted mansion, Death Manor. Screenwriters Vanessa and Joseph Winter do an impressive job providing a history to the film’s main ghost Mildred.
When it’s all said and done, it would not surprise me if this film became a hit among a certain demographic. But for me, the filmmakers overdid it. For a spoof of a spoof, it leaned too heavily on the overreaction from its main lead, playing out like what they think streamers would do. And with an ending as unsatisfying as the one they went with in this feature, I’d say Deadstream is an overall disappointment.