Movie Review: Deadstream (SXSW)

March 30, 2022

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected] He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

I’m in no way a fan of watching YouTubers, TikTokers, and the like, nor am I very big on films that use the social influencer method of storytelling or that have influencers, would-be or otherwise, as their protagonists. So when I say that I was bowled over by Deadstream and had a fun-tastic time watching it, it is no small compliment. This horror comedy from codirectors/cowriters Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter is an absolute blast, paying homage to The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and similar 1980s horror movies boasting wicked practical effects work and makeup. 

Joseph toplines as Shawn Ruddy, a disgraced and demonetized former internet star trying to make a comeback. He plans to livestream as he investigates a haunted house, with the caveat that if he doesn’t investigate mysterious noises or occurrences, he will lose his new potential sponsors. 

Joseph gives a hilarious performance as Ruddy, with his revved-up internet persona giving way to screaming and cowardice before he is forced to face coming clean with some past mistakes. Melanie Stone, one of the film’s producers, portrays Chrissy, an obsessive fan of Ruddy’s, in a fun performance. 

The film was shot in what is said to be an abandoned, haunted house in Utah, which looks incredible. I’m not sure how much nastiness inside the structure the film crew started off with, but Meg Cabell’s set decoration deserves huge kudos. The interior of the house looks absolutely terrifying — though the outside is not exactly the most inviting of places, either. The practical FX work from special effects technician Noah Cassidy is superb.

Rarely do jump scares get me, especially not to the point of shouting out cruder terms for fecal matter and carnal acts, but Deadstream serves up the shocks and shivers in abundance, along with the laughs. The Winters get the balance of horror and comedy right, which is no easy feat. 

Deadstream screened as part of SXSW, which took place March 11–20, 2022 in Austin, Texas. 

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