Now, I’m not much of a nationalist, most of the time. But show me a good movie by a Scottish filmmaker, and I’m stripped to the waist, covered in woad, and riding towards the border waving a Saltire and trying to play the bagpipes with my free hand.
So, when I came across, not just a movie from a Scottish filmmaker, but a horror that happens to be built around internet culture, I knew I had no choice but to watch it. I’ve written before about my interest in stuff like ARGs and other internet-horror, and when I spotted Death of a Vlogger, it seemed to be a perfect reflection of that notion, brought into actual-cinematic life.
And honestly, it damn near is. Death of a Vlogger, from writer/director Graham Hughes, is one of the sharpest, most incisive movies about the nature of internet fame and how easily it can be twisted to fit the horror genre. Following a wannabe-star-vlogger who apparently finds himself at the centre of a supernatural occurrence in his flat, it’s constructed as a mockumentary, talking heads, skeptics, experts, and everything else, to unravel the story of this alleged haunting that takes place via livestreams and Youtube uploads.
If that had been it, all that Death of a Vlogger had to offer, I would have been happy enough. But things soon take a turn for the complex, as the movie shifts into a Lake Mungo-esque series of questions about intent, reality, and the nature of constructed so-called real-life content online. Internet horror is not a totally fresh idea, but keeping the focus on bigger questions gives Death of a Vlogger a larger scope and far more staying power.
Of course, the low budget nature of this movie renders some of it pretty scrappy, but the found footage-y influence allows for some of the rough edges to round off. If you’re Scottish, or even just British, there’s a serious appeal to seeing our normalcy used as the backdrop to something like this, and I’ve no doubt that the familiarity of the settings and the people involved gifts Death of a Vlogger more kindness in my head than it might have earned otherwise.
I love to see indie pieces like this really prove that there’s great filmmaking, fresh takes, and awesome creatives outside of the mainstream – and when that comes wrapped up in the horror genre, all the better. Death of a Vlogger is a surprisingly dense, ambitious little story that turns found footage into something modern and malleable – and I promise, I’m not just hyping this up because of the home-ground advatange.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via London Horror Society)