Deadcon is an up-to-the-minute horror movie set among the world of YouTube stars and social media influencers. It's not really all that scary, but that's okay because the goal is clearly to be satiric more than anything. The manner in which the story mocks the narcissism inherent in internet celebrities – and then punishes those same individuals -- offers some sickly cathartic satisfaction. Deadcon had its world premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Fest.
The story is set at ViewCon, a convention for the internet-famous to meet their fans. (It's clearly based on VidCon.) Ashley (Lauren Elizabeth) and Megan (Claudia Sulewski) are among the star attractions. They're put in adjoining hotel suites, which are haunted by the spirit of a boy named Bobby whose computer programmer father helped pave the way for social media. Before long, strange things begin happening to Ashley and Megan, with some of their friends meeting grisly demises.
The best parts of Deadcon get at the way internet fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. Ashley gets tired of people bugging her for selfies or knocking on her door at all hours of the night. Having to be “on” all the time is a chore. Megan's a little happier with it, but she has a romantic drama playing out with a boyfriend and another guy. Both women compulsively film even the most mundane moments in their lives, then beg their followers – always referred to as “you guys” – for likes or emojis.
Deadcon shrewdly suggests that anyone self-absorbed enough to believe they deserve mass attention for being good-looking and/or mildly interesting deserves what they get. In that sense, Bobby represents the soul-sucking nature of being talentless, yet famous anyway. Keeping the machine going is practically a full-time job for the story's heroines. Slowing down could cause viewers to lose interest, at which point the adulation would quickly evaporate since there's nothing else there.
The horror moments work less well. Deadcon doesn't provide much explanation for why Bobby is so murderous, nor does it do a lot to build suspense. The horror moments arrive intermittently and not always for a discernible reason. Using practical effects helps, as they're done fairly well. One should not approach the film expecting to be scared, though.
But again, this is as much a satire as a horror flick. Sulewski and Elizabeth are YouTube/Instagram personalities themselves, so that gives Deadcon a nifty little twist. They know a thing or two about what their characters go through. I suspect the movie will play most strongly to adolescent/twentysomething audiences, for whom internet fame is a fascination. (They might find it more disturbing than a 51-year-old film critic who has spent decades covering horror did.) Either way, it's a picture that has a finger on the pulse of the internet, as well as the way average people can become stars through it – which, of course, can potentially be the most terrifying thing of all.
Deadcon is not currently rated, but contains adult language, sexuality, and violence. The running time is 1 hour and 17 minutes.