Hello there my fellow debauched devotees, it’s Thakgore and today I bring you a taste of micro-budget brilliance. My review of The Stream. Made on a mere thousand dollar budget the promise contained in this unnerving glimpse of hell is astounding. I can honestly say that a horror film hasn’t surprised me this much all year long. So let’s grab our canoes and prepare to navigate the pitch black waters of…
Directed by Isaac Rodriguez of the “No Sleep” Youtube channel, The Stream is about a young woman’s descent into hell following her boyfriend’s suicide. Before his untimely death it seems her beau had become obsessed with a live stream depicting a man lying in a coffin. As she uncovers the details of this disturbing imagery her world spirals out of control in a wild and unsettling plunge into the dark depths of death.
The most arresting thing about The Stream is the way Rodriguez chose to shoot it. Using a special camera called Osmo produced by DJI. The stabilization provided by the camera allowed him to shoot the film, in his own words, “like a ghost’s point of view”. He starts out using long takes and holding on lead actress Brittany Dunk allowing her to convey her performance through movement and facial expressions alone. You almost feel like you’re in the room with her many times throughout the film allowing for a sense of immersion I wasn’t honestly ready for. As the movie progresses he begins to cut more frequently creating a contrasting chaotic feel. When the film starts to take that turn and she begins her trip down the twisted rabbit hole you feel like you are being swept away as well. This is an impressive feat. I’ve seen films with thousands of times the budget not be able to pull it off.
Mr. Rodriguez also told me that this film had no proper script and the performers depended entirely on generalizations and bullet points to guide their performances. While I can’t honestly say that the dialogue was amazing I was never taken out of the movie by any of it. Brittany Dunk is tasked with most of the heavy lifting and she manages the load with impressive deftness. I believed in her sadness and eventual terror and honestly felt anxious for her well being, something that was vital in making the film work.
The film was sold to me as a Silent Hill, Twilight Zone-esque experience and it delivered on that promise. There are winks and nods to both of these mind bending franchises several times in the movie. A monologue given by a man late in the film felt just like a cut scene from the Silent Hill series. While these references were certainly welcome it can be easy to lose a project to its influences (ahem, The Void). Such is not the case here. Regardless of any referential elements The Stream stands firmly on its own two feet, beholden to nothing more than its creator’s vision.
Any weaknesses the film has can be primarily blamed on budgetary restraints and nothing more. For a thousand dollars Issac Rodriguez manages to embarrass the likes of The Bye Bye Man and the recently released The Wake. Where those films wasted interesting premises and budgets far beyond The Stream’s, Rodriguez uses clear genius and ingenuity to bring a nightmare jarringly close to reality at a fraction of the price. For the cost of seeing it The Stream might just be the best bargain in horror right now. Check it out. 4 out of 5
The Stream is currently available on Amazon Video.