How Stupid? – #02 – Deadcon (2019)

Directed by Caryn Waechter and written by Scotty Landes, Deadcon is a teenage horror film focused around internet personalities attending a conference called Viewcon (like Comicon), only to stay in a haunted hotel room.

The opening scene shows John (Aaron Hendry) on a phone call with the money behind his app, LinkRabB1t – a virtual room to hang out with friends – in the 1980s. The app is being shut down, only for a mysterious Bobby to ask John for friends in the real world (in exchange for friends in the virtual world). John agrees, so begins the curse. And for so-willingly trusting a mysterious person on the internet: #Stupid.

We then cut to present day, where vlogger Ashley (Lauren Elizabeth), from her channel AKAshley, flanked with security, Larry (Richard Kohnke), and manager, Kara (Mimi Gianopulos), arrive at their hotel room to discover it’s been double booked, forcing the hotel manager to offer them room 2210A: the haunted hotel room.

It’s soon revealed that Ashley, despite her success, doesn’t want for this lifestyle anymore, and plans to take a break from being an internet personality upon Viewcon’s ending. Later that night, to make her morale that much better, her room is broken into and trashed. Larry asks all the right questions and ensures her cards have not been tampered with or copied. #Clever.

She still spends the night alone, only for it to get much worse. It’s constantly cold, the light switches are faulty (with the help she sent for refusing to come into the room, The Shining style) and strange sounds are heard. The light switches breaking (the last of these events to happen) is officially the moment where you nope the f- out of this hotel room, and bunk with Kara, Larry or Megan (Claudia Sulewski), her neighbour and friend. But, she doesn’t. #Stupid.

After being infected, controlled, possessed or whatever by Bobby, the ghost-child, Ashley doesn’t turn up for her meet-and-greet. Kara, though, ever the worthwhile manager, just waits around for her, instead of checking her room or hunting for Ashley. #Stupid.

Ashley’s now-possessed body tries her best to kidnap children and give Bobby some more friends to play with. But, enough about Ashley, because her neighbour, Megan, has her own separate journey.

It’s revealed early on that Megan is having an affair with Dave (Keith Machekanyanga), who she has more in common with than her Miami-based partner, Ricky (Lukas Gage). Dave wants to film them having sex, as they won’t see each other for a month, and despite Megan’s refusal, Dave secretly films it, anyway.

Ricky surprises Megan the next day, flying in to party with her, leaving poor Dave to sit alone and watch the video. When a big afterparty kicks off, though, Ricky decides he wants to arrive ridiculously late and showers while Megan is already drinking and partying. In his shower, he live-streams himself for his audience to watch. Aside from that being a terrible inconvenience to his showering, it’s also #Stupid.

After some spooks, Ricky dies.

While watching the recording, Dave spots a child walking into the room. Finding a picture of Bobby (both Megan and Ashley were left a picture of Bobby in their room, he concludes it’s the same person (after some internet searching, always an exciting scene, where he finds out about John’s death and the mysterious circumstances which surrounded it). He texts Megan and calls the front desk, but after being ignored, just waits around and watches the recording some more. He doesn’t leave to find Megan, or take screenshots, or upload sections of it to his channel (he’s a gamer). #Stupid.

Warren (Carl Gilliard), a former cleaner who encountered the bloody murders in the 1980s and still works at the hotel, fears for the internet stars’ lives and inspects the rooms. Alone. #Stupid.

Warren dies.

Dave, now determined that an ‘8-bit ghost’ is out to get them – yes, an actual writer used the phrase 8-bit ghost – goes to Megan’s room (Megan, who is still non-the-wiser to Ricky’s disappearance) and waits there to ensure her safety. But, it’s not just A Nightmare on Elm Street where crappy males fall asleep, as Dave does, too. #Stupid.

Megan gets captured and Dave tries to find her by trying to open doors. He even hears her screaming behind a door, but it’s locked. So, he tries to fetch help. Dave, mate, kick the door down. #Stupid.

Then we cut to a horrendous POV angle of Dave’s camera as he walks around the room before he dies offscreen. If you’re suspecting a ghost and have an internet following, you live-stream it for the world to see and for the truth to be revealed. Dave doesn’t, Dave dies. #Stupid.

Another internet personality is ‘bumped up’ to 2210A as they’ve ‘become available’ – no mention as to why or how, but who cares? – and fade to black.

Now, let’s talk about Bobby.

Who was he? I don’t know. Why was he killing people? I don’t know. What happens after he kills them? I don’t know. Why did he only seemingly kill in the 1980s and present day? I don’t know. Why was the room usually kept empty by a manager who didn’t believe in its ghosts? I don’t know. Why is Bobby a little boy? I don’t know. What is the significance of LinkRabB1t if none of the protagonists had it downloaded? I don’t know.

Basically, this film tells you nothing. And clocking in at 74-minutes, would you expect anything less?

And another example of how stupid the writers were, they couldn’t even be consistent with Ashley’s channel name. It’s AKAshley, however they address her as AKA-Ashley and AK-Ashley in a confusing mess. Also, where did Larry go? Some bodyguard he turned out to be (which says a lot about the film when he gets the Common Sense Award). And why, after partying all night and being hungover to the point of throwing up, did Megan decide to get a shower? If I’m hungover, I’m either eating or sleeping, not live-streaming or showering.

9/10: Climbed Mount Stupid.

Common Sense Award: Larry.

Braindead Award: Dave.

Review:

Did they run out of budget before filming the final twenty minutes?

This is a genuine question, because very little is revealed about Bobby, the ghostly child antagonist, or why LinkRabB1t is important. The past scenes don’t mesh with the present, the lack of subsequent deaths in the room don’t add up with everyone, the manager aside, fearing the room (at least in 1408 and The Shining they had more than one piece of evidence, or a quite recent incident). Warren saw a child kill a bunch of people there in the 1980s (I think), yet he still works there. A cleaner willingly enters the room but a bellboy doesn’t. Its all a confusing mess.

Co-leads Lauren Elizabeth and Claudia Sulewski were fine, as was the majority of the cast; nothing special, just fine. However, Keith Machekanyanga has to take the Cast Loser award for his acting in the final act (trust me, it’s terrible). The visuals, likewise, aren’t terrible but aren’t anything special; some decent camera movements are wasted by the ending’s POV scene. Some decent jump scares are wasted by some terrible ones.

I know this is aimed at teenagers, and me, a near-30-year-old man is not the target audience, but teenagers should be allowed decent storytelling, too, right? The antagonist can have leave people with questions, but I understand nothing about Bobby, why he wants friends, whether he’s alive or dead or how he shoved a phone into Ashley’s neck (in what was a pretty decent, if afterwards confusing, scene). Does the hotel not care that its cleaner, Warren and 2210A’s guests have all vanished by the end? Simply placing more guests into it (and LaLaWhateverHerNameIs doesn’t even have to go in there, unlike Ashley who was double booked – again, something which isn’t explained).

Megan’s affair barely has any effect on the plot (Ricky turns up and dies), and their casual attitude towards affairs isn’t the best message to send to a younger audience (basically, cheating is better if you’re cheating with a more appropriate partner).

There are moments of promise, and a competent screenwriter could have guided this film to a better score than Scotty (not Scott) Landes does, but instead, we’re left with an incomplete story.

The Cast Leader: Lauren Elizabeth.

The Cast Loser: Keith Machekanyanga.

Personal: * Acting: * * Writing: * Presentation: * *

Overall: * ½

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