Currently touring the film festival circuit is LIVESCREAM, the latest film from Octopunk Media and writer/director Michelle Iannantuono.
To begin with, it’s very difficult to properly categorize this film, as there are very few, if any, films made quite like this. The entire film is presented as a video gaming live-stream (much like you’d find on Twitch or other such platforms). I suppose you could classify it as “found footage” horror, although it’s definitely not like any other found footage this writer, at least, has seen before.
LIVESCREAM tells the story of Scott (Gunner Willis of Ozark and Dead Silent) a gaming live-streamer, with a considerable following of viewers who tune in each week to watch him play through a wide variety of video games while giving commentary on each one. When Scott asks his viewers to recommend new games for him to try out on his channel, one of them suggests a little-known indie horror game called Livescream. As he begins his play-through, he quickly learns that this isn’t any ordinary video game, and the stakes couldn’t possibly be any higher, with each in-game death resulting in some deadly real-life consequences. As the game continues on, Scott is faced with various challenges, each one difficult and confusing in its own right, culminating with a twist ending that is as much shocking as it is disturbing. What am I talking about? Well, in the interest of remaining spoiler-free, you’ll just have to see for yourselves to find out!
From the technical side of things, something that’s definitely worth mentioning is the overall true-to-life quality of the film as a whole. For one thing, the streaming channel looks just like any one you’d find with a quick Google search, and could easily BE any one of them. Furthermore, the game that Scott’s playing throughout the course of the film is actually a completely original, actual video game created just for this film using the Unreal Engine (the same gaming engine used to create such real-life video games as the Bioshock series, Borderlands series, Mass Effect series, Batman: Arkham series, and countless others) which definitely helped to not only add to the overall realism and believability of the film, but also lends a ton of gamer credibility to this one, using one of, if not the best gaming engines on the market today in what must have been one heck of an undertaking by the filmmakers.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, LIVESCREAM is one of the most innovative and enjoyable horror films you can see anywhere, and not just as far as indie films go. It definitely holds its own as one of the better horror films of 2018, and absolutely raises the bar on the whole “found footage” sub-genre, offering an entirely new viewing experience as opposed to the typical shaky-camcorder/bad lighting vibe you’ll usually find with these types of films. Michelle Iannantuono has definitely come up with something new and exciting here, and cashed in on a market that despite its popularity among some gamers, really hasn’t offered anything in the realm of film, until now. Combine that with a great creepypasta-level horror story, a fantastic performance by the lead actor, and a surprise that will definitely stick with you, and you’ve got a serious winner on your hands that definitely promises many more good things from Octopunk Media. Do yourself a favor, and if you see this one pop up on any film festival lineups near you, go out of your way to go see it; and if you don’t, don’t worry, with its quality, I’ll be even more shocked than i was by the ending if this one doesn’t end up with some major distribution in the very, very near future. – 10.0/10