Every year, the Unnamed Footage Festival introduces me to POV, found footage, screenlife, and related styles of genre film. This year is no different. In one of my favorites of this year’s crop, #chadgetstheaxe plays with a similar format as last year’s breakout indie hit Deadstream but does so with significantly better results.
In the heralded Shudder selection, we followed a disgraced livestreamer/influencer trying to win back his previous fans by crashing at a famously haunted locale for the night. The set up here is not much different. In the case of #chadgetstheaxe, our initial protagonist is Spicy Steve, who kicks off the film being scared by his friends on a livestream and pissing his pants. In his next big stream, he enlists fellow streamers and friends Chad and the duo of Spennifer (Spencer and Jennifer).
Chad, quite full of himself but clearly presenting a false sense of bravado that he uses to cover up his excessive self-doubt, teams with Steve on Steve’s stream as “Team Cheeve” while Jennifer and Spencer use their Spennifer feed. The four begin their exploration of “Devil’s Manor”, the supposed former home of a dark cult that murdered several victims, together. While there are two streams, the four are roaming as one group, before eventually splitting up to explore different parts of the building. In this early segment, both Steve and Jennifer share some of the back story of the cult and the murders that occurred in the manor. Of course, once they split apart, things start to go poorly.
The events of the story really kick off when Team Cheeve discover a dead body in the attic and pull a full Logan Paul, continuing to film the body after realizing its not a prank, violating standard decency and likely rules of the streaming platform in the name of getting more views. They even put Steve’s hate on the body before leaving it and reutrning to the first floor. After Jennifer and Spencer leave, disgusted with the actions of Chad and Steve, Steve realizes they’ve gone too far based on his viewers getting angry with him and returns to the attic to retrieve his hat before calling the police. Chad thinks this is a stupid idea and feels zero remorse for joking and playing with the dead body, so he leaves to start his own stream. Soon after Chad leaves Steve, Steve heads to the attic to find the body gone and his hat place up in the rafters. He assumes the body must have been a prank afterall, but soon they all find out that there’s no prank being pulled and something far more sinister is afoot.
The film’s protagonist for the latter half of the film is Chad, focusing more on him than Steve, who was the primary focus at the start. The screenlife modality employed by the film allows for there to be stream swapping and even include a few video chats in the mix. This strategy allows for the film to break up the monotony of a single stream employed throughout, which can be a detriment to a film of this type sometimes. The switch in central characters from the start to the finish also helps to build greater character development and allow the audience to avoid becoming bogged down with following only one central character.
The use of multiple central characters is one of the things that helps #chadgetstheaxe stay out of some of the traps that Deadstream fell into. However, the major reason it works so much better is that Deadstream‘s central character – while intentionally created as a satirical spoof on the YouTuber culture – is completely unbearable to the point of being unwatchable, at times. In the case of both Steve and Chad, they are flawed, annoying, and sometimes downright shitty – but they have redeemable qualities and aren’t so painfully annoying that it becomes a chore to continue looking on.
In other words, fans and non-fans of Deadstream alike should really make a point to check this one out. #chadgetstheaxe is witty, fun, and has some solid legitimate scares. Another great discovery thanks to UFF, one that I wholly recommend you discover for yourself.
#chadgetstheaxe plays at 7:10 PM Saturday night and information can be found at unnamedfootagefestival.com. Grab your tickets now and get your ass to the 4-Star.