An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at the Shudder original, Deadstream
A disgraced streamer who is afraid of everything plans a big return with a livestream investigation into a supposedly haunted house.
Is Deadstream Scary?
Deadstream has some pretty good jump scares and ghoul designs. As it’s a comedy as well, it does a great job balancing that horror and comedy so while you’ll jump, you’ll also laugh. There is some light gore and a few disgusting scenes though so you might be recoiling a bit at some scenes.
In the end, the comedy reduces the scares and you won’t leave the movie terrified at all but you’ll still enjoy the entire thing… unless you’re a streamer going to check out a haunted house.
The film opens with vlogger Shawn Ruddy (played by Joseph Winter) introducing himself in what appears to be a trailer for his LivVid channel (LivVid being a copy of YouTube despite YouTube also being a thing in this movie). Shawn, the self-proclaimed ‘world’s biggest wuss’, has a very popular show called “The Wrath of Shawn” where he does random stunts to get over his fears.
It’s October, officially the season of spooks, and we quickly learn that Shawn was banned from social media for the last 7 months after some controversial stunts. We don’t learn what the stunts are but Shawn lost sponsors and issued an apology.
For Shawn’s latest episode he’s planning on live streaming an investigation of an abandoned haunted house. His mother even packed him some holy water, garlic, a silver dagger, salt, a crucifix, and a PB & J sandwich along with a note reading “You’re a douche bag but I still love you.”
October 20th rolls around and the stream starts. Before entering the house known as Death Manor, Shawn shows off some of the tech he’s bringing. Along with a head-mounted camera, he has a selfie camera that he can switch to by flicking his wrist.
He also has multiple cameras that he’ll be placing around the house that connects to an iPad so he can review the footage in real time as well as read the viewer’s comments.
In order to prevent himself from leaving, Shawn removes two spark plugs from his car and tosses them into the woods. As he very slowly walks towards the house, he tells his audience the house was built in 1880 by a Mormon pioneer for his daughter Mildred Pratt who was a poet. Mildred committed suicide in the house and since then, it’s been said to be haunted.
Inside, Shawn places a lock on the door and drops the key into a nearby vent to ensure he’s locked in and won’t leave if he gets too scared. Walking through the first floor he finds a bucket with some rope, some used needles (for drugs), and a meat cleaver.
After setting up some cameras using duct tape, Shawn tells his audience the story of Corner Man, one of the ghosts that supposedly haunt the house. In 1910 a man named Max Loland witnessed the ghost of a man standing in the corner of his room in the middle of the night reciting the words “the pond water is still”. A year later, Max died in his sleep.
Then in 1995, some paranormal investigators took a picture of the corner which shows a ghost standing there.
Shawn walks up the stairs reaching the landing where Mildred hanged herself. Entering the nursery where 5 children are said to have died, he finds the only window that has not been boarded up. Next Shawn enters the bathroom where the last documented death in 1955 occurred. There, he finds the bathtub still filled with some disgusting black water.
The final room on the 2nd floor becomes Shawn’s home base since there is no record of anything paranormal happening in that room. After setting up his laptop, Shawn investigates the closet in the room and finds a hamsa. Not knowing what it is and fearing what it could mean, Shawn removes it from the wall and throws it on the ground.
As Shawn finishes setting up the lighting in his safe room, his audience demands he tell the rest of Mildred’s story. We learn that Mildred wasn’t well-liked in the community and mostly kept to herself. Eventually, she met a wealthy publisher named Lars and they fell in love.
For two years they exchanged letters and Lars asked Mildred to marry him and move to New York. Mildred agreed but two days before her move Lars was found dead. The following day Mildred hung herself. The legend says Mildred’s spirit kills people and collects their souls so she can build the family she never had.
In order to appease his audience who are growing bored, Shawn reveals and spins a “Stupid Things To Do” board which contains things like seance, Exorcism, Spirit board, and EVP. The board lands on Seance and Shawn heads for the nursery.
Finding a toy, he calls out to the spirits of the house and freaks the fuck out when a loud bang is heard on the roof.
Back in the safe room, there’s a quick jump scare when Shawn pretends to be possessed to scare his audience. As he rambles on about an ex-girlfriend and pees into a bucket, the comments blow up after they claim to have witnessed a ghostly figure in the hallway.
Sitting back down, Shawn sees the comments and a screenshot someone sent but believes it to be photoshopped. To prove this, he rewinds the footage to the timestamp of when the screenshot supposedly happened, and… it turns out it’s real. Shawn sees a ghostly figure walking through the hall and entering the room he’s in.
Shawn runs into the closet and hides under some clothes. At the insistence of his viewers who remind him that he promised to investigate anything supernatural, Shawn heads out to the hallway. Hearing what sounds like a child laughing and someone in the nursery, Shawn screams and runs back to the safe room.
He barricades the door and accidentally steps on the hamsa, breaking it. He also stomped on it a few more times which felt unnecessary. The door opens and we meet Chrissy (played by Melanie Stone). Shawn is relieved to see a human and Chrissy reveals she’s one of his biggest fans.
She tells him she was able to figure out where Shawn was going to be by putting the pieces together in hints he dropped in his videos. She even offers to help with ghost hunting as she says she has some experience in it.
Shawn decides to leave the house until Chrissy informs him he has record-breaking numbers on the live stream. Opening his laptop they see that Shawn’s stream is currently at 4 million viewers and the chat is loving Chrissy. Reluctantly, Shawn lets Chrissy help him and he hooks her up with her own headcam.
The two head to the master bedroom where they find some hidden stairs in the closet leading to a cellar. Chrissy finds a large chest containing some of Mildred’s clothes, a locked jewelry box, and her book of poems which Shawn says sucks since they don’t rhyme.
After finding a dead animal, the two run upstairs and the viewers request Shawn spin the wheel of Stupid Things. Shawn happily agrees and allows Chrissy to spin it. Landing in between EVP and spirit board, Chrissy suggests they do both.
As they sit to contact the spirits, Chrissy suggests they read the poems out loud but Shawn declines, calling them boring. She snaps at him saying they’re not boring which is a huge red flag.
Shawn calls out to the spirits and lets Chrissy take the floor, immediately there’s a soft thud. She then suggests they recite a Latin phrase she knows that she says translates to an offering of peace. You may have noticed by I don’t trust Chrissy. Shawn eventually relents and the two say the Latin phrase.
There’s a loud bang from the bathroom and despite his audience calling him a coward, Shawn doesn’t want to check it out. Chrissy elects to go alone as Shawn watches the cameras on his iPad.
As Chrissy heads upstairs her camera goes offline and Shawn reluctantly goes to search for her. Entering the bathroom there’s a jump scare when Chrissy jumps out to scare him. Shawn yells at her for her prank and finally starts questioning how she got into the house. He uninvites her to his ghost hunt and says he’s going to find a way to exorcise the ghost children.
Chrissy tells him it’s not a good idea and lunges at him biting his neck. Reaching out, Shawn grabs a piece of wood and jams it into her neck, killing her.
Shawn freaks out, runs into his safe room, and asks his viewers to call the cops. When he exits the room, Chrissy is gone. There’s another bang on the roof and Shawn runs to his safe room where he sees Mildred’s body hanging on the camera feed.
His viewers send him a video of a kid who was watching the live stream earlier. He tells Shawn the hamsa is used to ward off evil spirits and since Shawn destroyed the one in the safe room, he unleashed them.
Shawn cries out for help and one of his viewers writes a comment saying “if she had the power to attack you, she would”. Shawn agrees completely forgetting that Chrissy, who has clearly always been a ghost, bit his damn neck.
Exiting the room, he doesn’t see Mildred hanging from the ceiling but does see her in his camera feed. Using it to maneuver around her, he almost gets past her but in a jump scare, Mildred lunges at him.
Mildred sticks her finger up Shawn’s nose but he forces her off and throws her down the stairs. Running to the vent, he searches for his key but finds a different key which his viewers suggest is for the jewelry box he found earlier.
Opening the jewelry box he finds a picture of Mildred confirming Chrissy was Mildred all along, and her finger wrapped in a cloth. Shawn takes the rope from the bucket and runs upstairs to the window in the nursery. Before he can climb out, he sees another ghost under the covers of the bed which lunges at him.
Shawn runs back to the safe room where his viewers send him a video from a Latin professor who translated the phrase he and Chrissy say aloud. Turns out the phrase actually translates to “I give you my soul and forfeit my will” which also translates to “Shawn fucked up.”
His viewers suggest this is karma for what Shawn did and as Shawn argues with his audience we learn that one of his stunts put a homeless man in the hospital. Shawn defends himself saying he was acquitted but we don’t learn much else. Mildred appears again under some blankets Shawn is sitting on and she bites him in the dick.
Shawn fights her off, runs directly to the nursery, and jumps out of the window. With his leg badly injured, he hobbles to his car and finds one of the sparkplugs. Before he can grab the second one, another spirit appears and he runs but falls down after a few feet.
A sheriff shows up and helps Shawn who immediately hugs him. Shawn looks around for the sheriff’s car but the sheriff is revealed to be another ghoul. After fighting off the sheriff, Shawn runs and hides in his car. Checking his stream, he learns his viewers have found the woman who made the hamsa decades ago.
In a pretty funny scene, Hettie, tells Shawn she made the hamsa when she was 15 to ward off Mildred who sold her soul to the devil. She then explains he can make another one but it will require a sacrifice of flesh. Hearing the sheriff approaching, Shawn loads a potato cannon with a bobblehead and, after a brief struggle, shoots the sheriff ghoul in the chest.
Shawn discovers his iPad is broken and no longer knows if he’s still streaming. Losing hope, he looks for a blank page in Mildred’s poem book to write his final goodbyes. Instead, he finds the ritual Mildred used to sell her soul.
He realizes Mildred wasn’t collecting souls to build a family but was collecting souls to build a following, with each soul making her stronger. Shawn figures the best way to make her lose her power is to take all the souls away from her.
Likening it to getting a copyright strike on his videos, he decides to do the ritual himself to bind the souls to him. After asking his audience to translate the words on the ritual page, Shawn heads back to the house with a newfound determination. I’ve never heard someone say “let’s demonetize this bitch” in reference to a ghost but here we are.
Using a log, he breaks the door open, grabs the meat cleaver, duct tapes his silver dagger to a broomstick; rubs some garlic on it, and fills an empty syringe (from the drug pile) with holy water. Reaching the second floor, he grabs his bookbag and gets to his laptop where his viewers have translated the ritual.
Grabbing a second iPad from his bookbag, he checks all the camera feeds and then draws a hamsa symbol on the ground using a piece of chalk. As he does so he points out that he most likely won’t make it out alive but thanks his viewers for their help.
He also gives a sincere apology for past stunts that were deemed racially and culturally insensitive and got him banned. We learn one was paying a homeless man to fight him and another was paying people to smuggle him across the border.
After apologizing and saying he’s learned and grown he dedicates his broadcast to “the blacks and Mexicans” so progress? Shawn turns on some pre-recorded dramatic music he curated and calls out to Mildred. When she doesn’t respond, he enters the nursery where he spots a boy sitting on the bed.
Running out of the room, he spreads salt along the door and calls out to Mildred once again. The two argue about who should come get who first and Shawn sees Corner Man exiting his safe room on his camera feed.
Unable to see him without the camera feed, Shawn stabs at the air with his makeshift spear until he hits Corner Man. As he celebrates, Corner Man snatches the spear and stabs Shawn in the leg. Shawn runs into the bathroom where Mildred knocks on the door pretending to be Chrissy.
The lights go out and we hear Mildred telling Shawn she wants him to meet someone. The lights turn back on and Shawn appears to be possessed sitting in the bathtub. As he descends into the water reciting Mildred’s poems, Shawn fights the possession and regains control. He’s then attacked by another ghoul that jumps out from the water.
Using the shower curtain, he pins the ghoul down and stabs it with his syringe of holy water causing it to explode.
Shawn throws Mildred’s poem book into the hallway, lures her out, and tries to stab her with his meat cleaver. She gets the jump on him, slamming his head multiple times on the floor, but he eventually jams the cleaver into her head, knocking her out.
Shawn attaches a headcam onto her so he can keep track of her and calls it the Mildead cam. He enters the saferoom and we cut to Mildred’s POV as she gets up and walks into the safe room.
She spots Shawn’s legs sticking out behind a desk and goes to attack but it’s a trick. Shawn jumps out of the closet yelling “surprise bitch!” and knocks Mildred out with a chair.
Dragging her body to the middle of the hamsa, Shawn performs the ritual but it doesn’t work. Mildred gets up and attacks Shawn. The two struggle with Shawn eventually pinning her down with a cinderblock. Running out of the room he stumbles down the stairs and crawls into the kitchen, wondering why the ritual didn’t work.
Finding Mildred’s finger that was in the jewelry box, he remembers that Hettie said the ritual requires a flesh sacrifice. Meanwhile, Mildred arrives crawling slowly toward him. Shawn gets up and recites the ritual again. As he finishes, he removes the cleaver from Mildred’s head and chops his finger off.
Mildred is dragged underneath the house into a pool of blood and disappears. Shawn celebrates as he wraps his hand in duct tape and declares to his now 6 million viewers that they beat the house.
As he declares that he’s number one he doesn’t realize that his finger now resembles Mildred’s. The ghouls of the house surround him and his feed cuts off, leaving his fate unknown.
Deadstream is great. It’s extremely well-acted and pretty much a one-man show with Joseph Winter playing a self-absorbed YouTube star who perfectly encapsulates that over-the-top personality.
The dialogue and jokes work throughout the entire movie and it balances the comedy with the seriousness of the situation almost perfectly. The story was well-paced with no wasted scenes. I was worried that Chrissy’s reveal of being evil was going to drag but the movie makes the reveal at the right time.
The monster designs are extremely well-done and it all appears to be practical effects but they’re not perfect. They’re the type of effects where if you look at it too long you can tell they’re fake and the director knows this so you’re never in that position. Deadstream had a serious look and feel akin to the Evil Dead series and that’s an extremely good thing.
The only negative I could really see for this movie was the reveal of Shawn’s insensitive stunts. The reveal took too long and was sort of a letdown since they didn’t seem to be that serious after seeing all the comments.
In the beginning, there’s a news article praising Shawn being “finally canceled” so you’re expecting some huge twist but it’s just the same things he mentioned or we saw earlier. Of course, this could be a commentary on some of “the controversies” some “influencers” have faced but overall you could put the reveal in the beginning and it wouldn’t change anything.
Overall I highly recommend giving Deadstream a watch, it’s easily one of my favorite horror movies of the year.