The Internet is evil, that much is clear, and what clever little indie horror movie Deadcon suggests is that those who make their living being super annoying online deserve to be punished for selling their souls to the beast. It’s a devilishly dark premise, because who among us isn’t irritated by those damn YouTube vloggers who talk endlessly about their own toenails or whatever? Sorry, I’m old, and Deadcon speaks to me in a very profound way.
Taking place at the kind of Internet-centric weekend convention you’d rather chew broken glass than attend, the film follows several popular vloggers as they are stalked and killed by a malevolent supernatural presence who both haunts the hotel they’re staying in and the Internet itself. This is communicated first in an eighties-set prologue, where a software evangelist(!?) lets a lonely kid named Bobby help make his game more popular and gets sucked into it as a result. Or something.
Fast forward to the present day where Ashley (a likeable Lauren Elizabeth who, for the purposes of this review, I’ll pretend wasn’t in a Logan Paul video), after being denied the hotel room her P.A. insists she deserves, ends up staying where a terrible massacre occurred. Ashley is already burned out — it must be hard to be “on” all the time — and looking to quit so, when things start going weird in the room, like bleeding walls and moving objects, it’s just more shit for her to deal with.
Soon, Ashley is wandering around like a zombie, causing fans to comment that she must be possessed (the comment section is used very effectively throughout for various running gags, like someone typing “BOOBS,” which recalls this Mega64 video). The focus switches between her and a variety of other obnoxious white people, including one dude who vlogs from the shower and looks like the lost Paul brother albeit he isn’t quite as horrible a person (which is really saying something), much like we cycle through videos online ourselves, looking to be entertained.
These are the kinds of kids who are glued to their phones while at a party…with each other. Deadcon doesn’t exactly empathize with them, but the film doesn’t hate them either. Mainly, it just presents the vlogging world as it is and leaves it up to us to decide. There is at least one YouTuber playing herself and another it’s difficult to tell with because she seems to be overdoing it but could just be…being herself? Regardless, the mostly professional cast nails the vibe, which is super annoying and makes them prime for slaughter.
The horror elements work reasonably well, from a sex tape revealing supernatural goings on, to the hotel worker who knows more than he’s letting on exclaiming “They put a guest in there!?” Deadcon has a tense feel to it, even though most of the action takes place in the blinding daylight of the convention itself. Bobby, who apparently just wants friends (aw), is a foreboding presence throughout, whether it’s in creepy old photos scattered around Ashley’s hotel room or in the Brightburn-esque symbols etched on the walls in blood.
Cleverly, he’s lurking in the comments too, popping up to ask for buddies, offer Ashley a place to stay when she’s momentarily without a room and, eventually, to threaten her life. The particulars of this 8-bit demon are left tantalizingly unclear, but there’s something to do with a satanic ritual. Although Deadcon is light on violence and gore, the movie maintains a strong atmosphere of unease throughout. We know these dumb kids are in danger even when they seem at their safest.
Most impressively, Deadcon has the courage of its convictions, choosing to end things on a surprisingly dark note that complements everything that’s come before. Director Caryn Waechter clearly knows her way around both a scare and a well-placed gag at the expense of those so desperate to be liked they’ll purposely expose themselves. The killer here may be of the supernatural variety, but his victims line themselves up like lambs to the slaughter. And we enjoy watching them pay for it.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Caryn Waechter
Writer(s): Scotty Landes
Stars: Lauren Elizabeth, Dominic Burgess, Lukas Gage, Mimi Gianopulos
Release date: TBC
Studio/Production Company: Gunpowder & Sky
Run Time: 78 minutes