Review: Livescream (2018)

Starring Gunner Willis

(1 hour 7 min)

(2018)

“A popular video game streamer plays a haunted game…with deadly consequences for himself and his followers.”

I was lucky enough to see the world premiere of LiveScream last month at Crimson Screen Film Festival where it quite deservedly won the Jury Award, Best Actor, and was a runner up for Audience Choice.

The film is told entirely as a video game livestream with Gunner Willis (playing Scott, a popular video game streamer) in a video box in the top corner for the duration of the film. The rest of the screen is divided up with a running chat box along the side populated with the stream’s audience members, which is where a good deal of the film’s back and forth dialogue is told, and of course the faux game itself which is divided into several takes on popular horror games like Five Nights at Freddy’s and the Slenderman games. The film follows Scott as he tries to complete each “level” with a member of the audience being killed each time he loses a life.

What makes LiveScream so unique for me is that Gunner Willis is the only onscreen character for nearly 95% of the movie. The entire plot and character development (of which there is a surprisingly large amount) is told entirely through his interactions with the chat window while he plays. Gunner’s extremely convincing performance mixed with Iannantuono’s writing draw you into this world and manages quite the feat of making you become emotionally invested in characters you aren’t able to see. Gunner keeps a running commentary over the entire film which while appearing to be shot entirely in one take, was actually filmed in 3 segments that were edited seamlessly together. Iannantuono revealed to the audience during the Q&A that this was done to keep the energy levels of the performance up and that Gunner had to memorize over 70 pages of dialogue in just 3 weeks. There is some nice insight into the psychology of the internet and gaming world and its here that the film really shines. There is genuine depth to these characters and in one particularly well executed sequence towards the end, I actually found myself tearing up from just a photograph.

Achieving such a large impact with such a minimalist approach isn’t the only thing that impressed me about LiveScream. One of my biggest gripes about movies that feature video game segments in them is that they always look hilariously fake, obviously having been designed by someone who had no idea what modern games look like. This is not the case with LiveScream. The games themselves, which were designed by Iannantuono, were spot on. The levels, while relatively simple in design, are perfect copies of the modern indie horror games that are so prevalent on YouTube gaming streams and it adds tremendously to the overall effect.

LiveScream is sure to be a hit among horror gamers and certainly takes the top slot as being one of the most unique and interesting indie films I’ve seen in 2018. If you’re looking for something a little different, I highly recommend checking it out. It is currently on the film festival circuit and has a whole slew of upcoming showings. Check out https://www.facebook.com/ livescreamfilm/ for the full list of screenings and check out the full trailer here:

Michelle will be our special guest this Friday night at 9pm on The Horror Syndicate Lives! so be sure to tune in and bring any questions you have for her!