Glasgow FrightFest 2020: Death of a Vlogger
Director: Graham Hughes
Writer: Graham Hughes
Starring: Graham Hughes, Annabel Logan, Paddy Kondracki
A vlogger gains viral fame after one of his eerie videos contains an alleged out-of-this-world haunting. Following YouTuber Graham as he investigates the darker supernatural side of the web and dealing with the effects of being famous on the internet, this trip down a hellish rabbit hole includes interviews, cat videos, ripped YouTube content, fun nonsense, archive material, tension and unusual scares.
K. The film starts off with a Youtube video made by Graham (Graham Hughes), the eponymous vlogger, discussing perception and reality, a thematic primer for the film. From there it transitions to a documentary structure flashbacking presumably to explain the events leading up to Graham’s death. During a live stream, Graham has a supernatural encounter in his flat and the video goes viral. Then he sets out to cleanse his haunted flat. Things are pretty humorous to start with since the main character runs a silly Youtube channel but about halfway through things turn serious. Unfortunately, the transition doesn’t quite work. Relying solely on recycled scares from the found footage genre, not only are they unoriginal but they’re ineffective. As things grow more dire for Graham, it’s never made clear why he wouldn’t just move. Instead we focus on his downfall in the online community and go off on a tangent about the effects of social media, which while interesting, really is little more than superficial lip service. The acting overall is pretty good, especially Annabel Logan as Erin, Graham’s girlfriend. The documentary/found footage structure gives license to be boring and draw things out under the guise of saying to the audience “just wait, it’s about to get good”. But really the editing could’ve been much tighter here. Things run long because this is another case of a short film type idea stretched to the breaking point in order to reach feature length. I’d like to see what this filmmaking team could do with a more fleshed out idea. C. With technology integrating more into our society as we advance I’m always interested about how that may impact storytelling. Films like Cam or Unfriended have been strong examples of horror entering the modern age. Death of a Vlogger starts out with that potential to (if anything) see an updated take on a classic haunting story. I credit it for some effective moments based on an obviously small budget and giving the “found footage” style a purpose that makes sense. Many times you are sitting there asking “why are they even filming?” or “why don’t you just drop the camera and run?”. Though I will admit it starts off rocky as Graham states he’s been vlogging for two years, yet doesn’t have the onscreen personality or presence of someone with that experience. As it goes on he gets better which I can only guess is an acting, directing, or writing choice (since it’s the same person) in order to set a mood. Does it? Sure. With the potential provided for the next stage of found footage horror, it ultimately finds itself in the rehashed territory of found footage tropes that were overdone several years prior thanks to companies like Blumhouse. That being said, for fans of the subgenre, I can see it being enjoyable. For me, I wanted to check the time during multiple drawn out sections. I feel like if I was viewing it as an actual vlog, with a couple-minute episodes once a week over several months it may have been stronger. But obviously that format doesn’t usually lend itself to a wide audience. Based on the resources I think they did a solid job and made a very watchable movie. I just think it’s one of those instances where they could’ve fine tuned a little more to give us more to chew on. J. It’s sort of an excuse to make a found footage haunting film because since the main character is a vlogger, he films everything even when he should be running for his life and not giving a shit about filming stuff. I suppose it’s a valid excuse to shoot the movie the way it is. I thought there were a few generally creepy moments involving the haunting stuff but I will say that it gets a little repetitive. The filmmaker does a great job of selling these scare scenes. He definitely has a handle on camera tricks and editing for supernatural effect. One of the better scenes involved Graham trying to escape his apartment and being caught in a time loop of sorts where the stairway out was just on repeat. Clearly, they had about a $20 budget to make this film and it does show but I commend Graham and his team for pulling off what they pulled off. This isn’t really reinventing the wheel or anything but if you enjoy found footage and supernatural shit, you’ll probably enjoy Death of a Vlogger too. Oh, and 90% of the shows on Travel Channel...
C. We’re kind of all in agreement here and as part of our ritual of not seeing each others first reactions until posted I wish I saw the others’ because of all the overlap. There’s always one every festival where I don’t have a lot to say and unfortunately it’s this one. I agree with both Josh and Kyle in commending those involved for pulling off what they did on such a low budget. I’d also piggyback off Kyle in mentioning the tonal clunkiness with the transition from being more lighthearted to serious. We’ve mentioned movies with this issue before but it tries to ride the wave of those like it that were successful but gets lost in a sea of imitators. J. I think I liked this maybe a tad more than my Bloodhound Pix colleagues but it does suffer from everything we’ve mentioned so keep that in mind. I mentioned Travel Channel earlier and 90% of the shows on the network are sort of like the way this film was made. I wonder if eventually they’ll go into production on one about a vlogger who happens to just randomly catch sight of a supernatural presence in their house?! It would work better in this format and not a feature film but this one isn’t a waste of time by any stretch. K. There’s not much more to say about this one, some of the acting was good, but other than that it was pretty difficult to sit through (not in a good way). I understand the concept was chosen out of necessity, unfortunately that wasn’t enough to make this worthwhile. Bloodhound’s average score: 2 out of 5