Death of a Vlogger (2019) Review – Horror on Tubi
A social media personality and online prankster achieves fame through a viral video that, apparently, depicts a haunting. The only question is whether the video is genuine or an elaborate fake aimed to achieve popularity. Either way, Graham is about to discover the dark side of the internet.
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Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another edition of our Horror On Tubi feature. We’ve been spending the month scraping the bottom of the Tubi barrel. Greedily searching for all the low budget horror crap we can find. Our hands, and eyes, will never feel clean again after being exposed to excreta like Chest, Something Walks in the Woods, and The Sleepless Unrest. We are expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Only, today is a little different. Today we will be reviewing Graham Hughes’ Found Footage horror Death of a Vlogger.
This is a movie that is very well regarded by critics. I didn’t actually know this when I first chose to watch it. I simply saw the title and realised it had a bit of a social media theme. Something that we have been giving a lot of attention to this year. So decided to watch.
That doesn’t mean we will be swayed by people’s opinions, of course. As far as I am concerned. We will look at this in the same way we would look at any low budget Tubi movie. With disdain and, even, a little bit of disgust. At least until it proves us wrong, of course. Reset managed it. Maybe Death of a Vlogger will, as well. Let’s go!
The Critics Love This One
So before we get into our breakdown of this movie. I found the review scores it has received somewhat interesting. I mean, sites were awarding it 9/10, 5/5, A ratings. It has all been pretty positive on the critical front. Hell, Death of a Vlogger is a afforded a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 7.8/10 average. So this is pretty much the best Found Footage ever, right?
One of the critics described Death of a Vlogger as “Paranormal Activity for the vlogging generation”. You know, Paranormal Activity? That movie that managed to reignite the found footage genre. The micro budget horror that became one of the most profitable movies ever made. As well as sparking a whole wave of sequels, copycats and spin-offs. That Paranormal Activity? Death of a Vlogger is that… Only, for Zoomers.
But Many Viewers Don’t
And that is when I decided to look a little deeper. I mean, let’s be real. Critics, especially horror critics, love to feel like they have found the next horror gem. They really enjoy that feeling of being able to appreciate a movie on a level that the audience can’t. Somehow managing to forget that they are reviewing a movie for the audience. Not for their own little clique of fart sniffing review buddies. I don’t do that. I always review as a horror fan and as a member of the audience.
The 100% Rotten Tomatoes score I referred to before. Really starts to look a little odd when you compare it to the viewer score. Sure, we have 4 extremely positive written reviews and only a few ratings. But those ratings hint at a far less enthusiastic response. When we head over to IMDB and TMDB. That sentiment is shared with a 5.6/10 score and a 57% user score respectively. The one that really concerns me, however, is the Google User Score.
Let’s be honest for a minute, here. Google Users love everything. They are the most enthusiastic group of reviewers on planet earth. I have reviewed some utter crap on here that has been liked by 80% of Google’s audience. In fact, I am pretty sure that they must count a “Like” as having not fallen asleep during the movie. The Google User score for Death of a Vlogger is 65%. That is really low. Especially when compared to the critic score. There is, likely, a simple explanation for that. Death of a Vlogger is one of those movies that some people will hate. Me, I am somewhere in between.
Found Footage YouTube Style Mockumentary
That’s, really, the best way to describe Death of a Vlogger. Following the story of a man experiencing internet backlash after his video of an alleged haunting goes viral. This movie is presented as something of a mockumentary of the process, and fallout, of creating a social media video. Only for it to go viral. I believe much of the audience displeasure with this film comes from a misunderstanding. The thing is, Death of a Vlogger really isn’t a horror movie.
Of course, it has a few scares here and there. And the themes at play are firmly routed in horror. But the movie is far more focused on the social, and psychological, ramifications of existing as part of an always online generation. The impact a vicious, and unforgiving, internet community can have on a person. And the things that drive content creators to produce videos.
Not Really a Horror Movie
The scares here might best be described as fan service. Something to keep the movie on track for a horror audience. But utterly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Death of a Vlogger could have existed with no horror elements at all. Its story really doesn’t depend on it. With this in mind, if you go into this movie looking for scares, you may be disappointed.
I think this is where some of the viewer resentment comes from. It just doesn’t feel like an actual horror movie. Someone expecting to be scared will, likely, find themselves bored as the focus switches. Don’t get me wrong, some of the scenes are fairly suspenseful. There is some effective tension and a few moments are genuinely creepy. But Death of a Vlogger is far more concerned with its story of social suffering.
Its tendency to push the horror to one side is to its detriment given the likely viewer base. Especially when you consider the manner in which it does this. Lake Mungo does something similar and suffers the same consequences. I think the story and production style of Lake Mungo affords it more leeway in this regard. It is easier to be drawn back in. I think, for some viewers, Death of a Vlogger will push its luck a little too hard. Leading to them becoming disinterested or switching off.
An Interesting Mystery
For people who are willing to dig a little deeper than scares and horror. Death of a Vlogger has something else to offer. There is an interesting mystery at the core of this movie. A constant question of whether the events being depicted actually happened. Or whether they were being faked for publicity.
The movie presents us with interviews with friends of our protagonist. Investigators and people who have worked with him. It’s effective stuff and keeps you fairly engaged. For those of you who are keen of eye. There are little tidbits of background detail that come into play later in the movie. Cleverly placed and referenced in the latter stages of the film to tie things together.
The movie slowly drip feeds in more and more information in an attempt to hold this engagement. Occasionally presenting us with major pieces of exposition. Effectively turning the mystery on its head. Some of these moments of exposition, unfortunately, can undermine earlier parts of the movie. Making the continuity feel a little off and bringing the whole point of the documentary being filmed in to question. The movie does dial itself back in with a strong ending, though. Again, tying everything back together.
Quite Funny at Times
Death of a Vlogger has a keen sense of humour. For much of its length. It approaches its subject matter with levity and a distinct wit. Provoking a few laughs and keeping the mood light. Interactions between characters are, often, comical and many of the events are presented tongue in cheek.
Unlike the aforementioned Lake Mungo. Death of a Vlogger is far less serious. Instead choosing to approach themes of online harassment and social media obsession with satirical humour. I am bringing up Lake Mungo again because the two films share similar styles. The subject and approach happens to be rather different, though.
Acting is Mixed
Acting is a bit of a mixed bag. The characters here don’t have a tremendous amount of depth but they are developed personalities. Our star, Graham, played by Graham Hughes, is an online prankster with a social media following. Hughes does a decent job with the character. Though it can, sometimes, be difficult to imagine Graham actually becoming a popular online personality. He just doesn’t feel special or unique. Graham is a very ordinary guy and Hughes can seem a little uncomfortable on camera, at times.
Paddy Kondracki, as ghost investigator Steve, is a bit of a different story. His character is a dialed up to 11 parody of some of the ghost hunting personalities we have been exposed to in the UK. Kondracki has some of the funnier moments of the film. Prompting a good few laughs and having some great lines. But I think that speaks more to the writing of these specific lines than his delivery. He is fairly awkward on screen for much of the movie. Seeming inexperienced and ill at ease with playing an eccentric online personality. He warms up as the movie goes on but is mediocre for much of its length.
The strongest performances come from Annabel Logan, as Graham’s girlfriend Erin, and Joma West, as Alice. Logan and West both seem far more comfortable on camera and far more experienced. Joma West, in particular, gives a very effective and confident performance in a very entertaining role. I have heard some people complain that some of the character’s thick Scottish accents get in the way here. I didn’t really have that problem.
A Serious Message
At its heart, however, Death of a Vlogger has a fairly serious message. It demonstrates the realities of becoming too wrapped up in the world of social media. And the very real world ramifications of that obsession. Something many people can relate to and something that many have learned the hard way. The internet is a harsh and brutal place. People are quick to judge and slow to forget. When people feel taken advantage of. They will be quick to do everything they can to ruin your life.
The question is, does that make for a good horror movie? Well, in a lot of ways, no it doesn’t. For much of its length, Death of a Vlogger simply isn’t very scary. If you find yourself wrapped up in the mystery. You will likely enjoy the film. I felt rather split on it. It really didn’t grab me and my score will reflect that. For many others, however, it did grab them and they love the movie for it. Your mileage may vary.
Final Thoughts and Score
Death of a Vlogger will not appeal to everyone. As a horror movie, it isn’t particularly scary and some of its themes rob the scares of gravity. As a mystery movie focused on a very real issue faced by the always online generations. It can be interesting stuff. It has some genuinely funny moments and the story will have some people really engaged.
For an audience that is expecting scares and horror themes, however. The movie may be a little bit lacking. Although it didn’t grab me, I can see why some people really like Death of a Vlogger. It is one of those movies that will divide people right down the middle. It’s worth me mentioning, in closing, that this isn’t a Tubi only movie. You can watch Death of a Vlogger free on Tubi, Youtube, Plex and a few other places. It shouldn’t be hard to find.
Trailer: Death of a Vlogger (2019)
|Release Date:||24th August 2019|
|Movie Type:||Horror, Found Footage|
|Movie Length:||88 Min|
|Starring:||Graham Hughes, Annabel Logan, Paddy Kondracki, Joma West|
|Directed By:||Graham Hughes|
|Written By:||Graham Hughes|
|Produced By:||Graham Hughes|