07th Jul2020

‘Death of a Vlogger’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Graham Hughes, Annabel Logan, Paddy Kondracki, Joma West, Stephen Beavis, Patrick O’Brien, Josie Rogers | Written and Directed by Graham Hughes

[NOTE: With the film out now, here’s a reposting of our review of the excellent Death of a Vlogger from it’s screening at last years Frightfest]

Death of a Vlogger tells the story of Graham, an ambitious vlogger who gains viral fame after one of his videos apparently contains an alleged out-of-this-world haunting. Following that experience Graham succumbs to the darker supernatural side of the web and deals with the effects of being famous on the internet.

I’ve long-documented my dislike for found footage films. I often think that the use of the format is a shortcut to create horror – in particular jump scares, cut corners in terms of filming quality and, with that, storytelling. However… Death of a Vlogger does something completely different with the format, bringing in the facets and tropes of vlogging, YouTube videos and live-streaming to create a truly modern, cutting edge take on a film format that has, frankly, played out in the 20 years since The Blair With Project made found-footage de rigueur.

Set up like a documentary of vlogger, filmmaker and prankster Graham, played by writer/director Graham Hughes, Death of a Vlogger is much more than a horror movie. Yes, we get jump scares, scary Ring-like figures and a plethora of eerie scenes but – and this is where Hughes’ film really stand out – it says a LOT about the state of vlogging in this era of social media, follower counts and making money online. In an age where notoriety gets you views and, to steal a phrase from wrestling’s Eric Bishoff, controversy creates cash, LITERALLY in the case of YouTube, where video views and the finances that come with that can explode following “incidents”. Note I use speech marks around “incidents” to indicate that not all of these controversies are real, oftentimes vloggers will know EXACTLY how to wind up mainstream media/joe public to manufacture fame/infamy. And Death of a Vlogger perfectly captures that same notion. It’s almost as if filmmaker Graham Hughes has studied from the best… or worst. *cough*

Thankfully Hughes’ decision to film the events as a documentary allows him to tell more than just one side of the story. To his characters point we get counterpoint from Alice (Joma West) who debunks Graham’s depiction of the events we see – but then even that debunking can be taken with a pinch of salt. There’s a real fine line in Death of a Vlogger over what is real and what is fake, this is a film that is filled with shades of grey, there’s no black or white, right or wrong. Perception is everything.

And that’s exactly the world we’re living in today.

Perception is everything. Fake news, political bias, liberal media, right-wing media. Everything we see, hear or read these days is clouded by perception. Our perception or the perception of others. Even to the extent where our own social [media] circles are manufactured to the point where if someone disagrees or offers a conflicting point of view they can be blocked and/or unfollowed, creating even more false perceptions.

Never has a genre film been more timely than Death of a Vlogger; perfectly capturing not only the zeitgeist of the state of YouTube, with “stars” like Logan and Jake Paul, Tana Mongeau, and Sam Pepper using controversy to create views and build an audience; but also mainstream media as we know it today, where controversy can lead to more airtime on TV, where political bias and the cult of celebrity drives everything, even the nightly news.

***** 5/5

Death of a Vlogger is out now on VOD in the UK from 101 Films


Comments are closed.