Playing out as more of a mockumentary with found footage elements, Death of a Blogger recounts the story of Graham (played by director Graham Hughes), an ill-fated vlogger who rose to fame after capturing a paranormal incident on camera. The film interviews those that worked with him, fellow paranormal vlogger Steve (Paddy Kondracki), his close friend Erin (Annabel Logan), and the skeptic that didn’t buy into his videos, Alice (Joma West). There are also Graham’s video diaries of the strange things happening in his flat.
What Death of a Vlogger does well is that it offers a compelling ghost story alongside a commentary on social media. Hughes highlights both the dangers of believing everything you see and the dark side of Internet fame. At first, Graham is a viral superstar, the man who did the impossible, but the fickleness of the masses soon turn on him and we witness his descent into depression as trolls begin to make his life very unpleasant. It holds a mirror up to our media obsessed culture of cruelty, and you might not like what you see.
It’s not just the eye-opening look at how we consume and use social media that is cause for horror, Death of a Vlogger has just as many actual scares. If you are at all wary of ghosts and such on film, then you might want to swerve this film as there are several moments that are pretty horrifying. One scene in particular involving an ordinary sheet in the background caused chills and the hairs on the back of this writer’s arms to stand on end. The scares are all pulled off in camera and demonstrate that Hughes has a lot of tricks up his film-making sleeves.
In terms of plot and dialogue, Death of a Vlogger doesn’t necessarily have the biggest amount of competition as, let’s face it, your typical found footage film isn’t remembered for its amazing story or snappy plot. They typically rely on fairly straight-forward stories and the dialogue tends to be clunky and almost always feels forced and over-rehearsed. Death of a Vlogger stands apart from all these tropes, the story is far more layered than it may sound from what we’ve revealed thus far. Hughes allowed himself, and his cast, to be loose with the script, freeing them from adhering to what was dictated and allowing the film to feel natural. It’s a very clever decision and one that it so important to a film within this genre. One of the main reasons that The Blair Witch Project worked so well is that a lot of it was improvised; Death of a Vlogger captures that same magic.
With pretty solid scares that will induce goosebumps, Death of a Vlogger explores a tried and tested sub-genre in a new dynamic way. Proof that if you are committed enough you can produce a high quality and creepy horror film without breaking the bank. Graham Hughes very well might have created Paranormal Activity for the vlogging generation.
Death of a Vlogger is available on Digital HD now.
This review first appeared on THN.