This comic horror romp has no pretensions and seeks only to goof around and dole out a few jump scares, but in its own sly way it offers a Gen Z version of The Blair Witch Project. Just as that 1999 film showed hipster film-makers stumbling around an evil woodland, their handheld supposed “found” footage forming the film itself, this pretends to be a feed on a Twitch-like platform livestreaming the latest escapade of Shawn Ruddy (played by co-director Joseph Winter).
Shawn’s public persona is built around his foolhardy, faux-naif willingness to take stupid risks, but a recent stunt that went too far has cost him his sponsors. After making the obligatory apology video (there’s a lot of references to other shamed internet personalities such as PewDiePie), Shawn is on a mission to win back viewers by exploring an abandoned house supposedly haunted by assorted ghost children and/or a dead 19th-century poet called Mildred. Using an assortment of tiny cameras mounted around the building and on top of his own head as he creeps about, Shawn reacts to his viewers’ comments (many plausibly banal, poorly spelled and sometimes toxic) as the situation grows increasingly dire. A manic, or possibly maniac, pixie dream girl named Chrissy (Melanie Stone) pops out of nowhere to help him investigate, which adds an extra dimension.
Although the whole concept is quite daft, Winter’s energetic and committed performance adds a bit of heft without ever forfeiting the comedy entirely. Likewise, the film keeps toggling deftly between ghouls, grossout moments and self-mocking silliness. It’s hard not to like something that works up to a climax where a potato gun is put to murderous purpose.
• Deadstream is available on 6 October on Shudder.