That’s right. I said it. This film is perfect. DEATH OF A VLOGGER hits every mark with gusto, combining “found footage” with interviews and archive images to create a brilliant spider web of truths and lies, left to the viewer’s ultimate judgment. Like the greats of horror before it, it doesn’t pander or spoon-feed a single moment of terror. Every frame and every moment is worth watching and rewatching, as there are a thousand different things happening within each second of the film. DEATH OF A VLOGGER did something most films cannot – it scared me so badly I had to sleep with the television on.
DEATH OF A VLOGGER is a mockumentary following the tumultuous journey of Graham Hughes, a semi-popular YouTuber who suddenly begins to have paranormal and frightening experiences in his home. In a perfect dissertation on social media “fame”, the lines between reality and fantasy blur as Graham grapples with the addiction to the limelight… or is there something very real and sinister occurring around him? Are those closest to him really trying to help, or are they part of his illness? At one point is shedding light and displaying the truth abusive and neglectful?
Deeply layered folklore and ghost stories play beautifully on the playground of youtube influencers, and the character work displayed by ALL of the cast is equally intricate and deep. Every member of this cast has a strong, definitive character and role in this roller coaster of a story, from Erin’s (Annabel Logan) grounding nonchalance to Steve’s (Paddy Kondraki) wild desire for the next viral hit. A stand out character is Alice (Joma West), an investigative journalist who decides she isn’t satisfied with the answers Graham and Steve are giving the world via their videos. Alice breaks this case wide open, and West’s performance provides a perfect mirror for the bizarre facts and falsehoods of this case. Hughes himself, who also wrote and directed this film, gives a subtle and multi-faceted performance, vacillating between deep sorrow, intense fear, and pathos that leaves us just uneasy enough to never know who or what to believe.
The fear factor of this film is raw and real. DEATH OF A VLOGGER taps into that fear we all feel – the feeling that you aren’t alone in your own home – the feeling that something just out of your line of vision is a little too suspicious to JUST be an inanimate object. This movie had me anxiously checking the corners, scanning the screen intently waiting to see something I didn’t want to see. The visual horror is incredibly simple and effective, in ways that perfectly rivet you and put you on the edge of your seat. DEATH OF A VLOGGER is a film that will have you yelling at the tv, covering your eyes, and trying to catch your breath. The mystery of the story – and the ultimate truth behind it – draw you into the world of the screen and the internet, in perfect symbolism and parallel to Graham’s story.
Every frame of DEATH OF A VLOGGER is intentional, mindful, and brilliant. The subtext of internet addiction and obsession with fame blends with true psychological horror in ways that are impossible to dissect. There’s nothing to deconstruct here – there’s no way to tear it down. The structure is too solid. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film I truly believe is perfect and deserves multiple rewatches. I’m hopeful for more from the mind of Graham Hughes — if this is where he’s starting in feature filmmaking, I can’t imagine the astronomical levels he will reach. Everyone who has any ties to horror, the internet, or fear of the unknown (isn’t that everyone?) needs to see DEATH OF A VLOGGER.
You can catch DEATH OF A VLOGGER this weekend at Cinequest.
Tickets available here.
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