Streamer (2017) Movie Review

Loneliness. Desperation. Isolation. These three things can lead someone on a crash course to bad decisions. With only their own thoughts for company, there’s no one to talk them down from the ledge – or away from the knife block. In Streamer, Jared Bratt’s (Hokum 2010) semi-autobiographical feature film, the frustration with being alone and floundering in LA drives the main character to extreme lengths to find love and affection.

The official synopsis for Streamer:

When a misguided loner learns that a webcam girl lives in his building, he struggles to build a sincere relationship with both her onscreen and offscreen personas.

Streamer is Jared Bratt’s baby. He not only wrote, directed, and edited the film, but he also starred in it, physically and mentally putting himself back into the uncomfortable situation he himself had lived through. In the Director’s Statement page on the film’s website, Bratt said,

“Two years into having moved from Montreal to Toronto, I met a girl who I became infatuated with. On my own, and feeling out of the element, it felt like a blessing to have finally met someone I felt connected to, someone I wanted to get to know on an intimate level.

Unfortunately, my understanding of the situation was completely misinterpreted on my end. Her perspective was we were “just friends” and wanted no more than that. On top of that, she already had a boyfriend.

This revelation hurt deeply because I genuinely felt connected with her and that she must have known my feelings towards her. As time went on, I realized that chasing someone who was unavailable and not interested was doing me no good at all, and that I owed it to myself to move on.

Watching the film now, I realize that making this movie was a way for me to have some form of closure (of a relationship that never was). I am someone who is very much governed by emotion and each time I watch Streamer, the memory of the humiliation, fear and pain of rejection hits me. Even now, this very notion of letting my guard down with someone, being emotionally vulnerable with them and not having this act reciprocated, overwhelms me.

In this culture of social media that we live in, it is very easy to look at other peoples’ lives and feel worse about our own. Friends and friends of friends so seemingly happy, “living the dream” daily, it’s easy nowadays to wind up feeling like the ostracized loner.

So now I see Streamer as this subtle cautionary tale of not getting too comfortable with the way things are. Communication is essential, and when we can’t take the opportunity to connect, vent, or complain to someone, sometimes, the isolation of not having this shoulder to cry on, can be dangerous.”

Along with Jared Bratt, Vincent Pun (He Never Died 2015) co-created Streamer, sharing the tasks of directing, producing, editing, and writing, while Pun alone was in charge of cinematography. The film was created through Candy Eater Films Productions.

“Why do girls hate me?”

This is the question that lonely LA resident Jared (Bratt) can’t get out of his head. He’s so desperately desolate that he uploads a video to YouTube, asking this very question. We see him go through his daily grind, working, eating and sleeping alone, only to come home and find his video has still not been viewed. Even on the internet, no one notices him. He eventually stumbles upon a webcam girl site where he creates an account with the literary username Mr. Darcy, in an effort to show that he wasn’t there for the same reasons LovingBooty and GotTheMoney were tuned in. Jared just wants someone to talk to. It’s there that he meets this girl (Tanya Lee).

Jared becomes obsessed with this webcam girl, paying for private rooms with her so he can “just talk,” although she does convince him to go further with her feminine wiles. She becomes the epitome of sexy for Jared. Later, Jared sees the webcam girl in his condo’s laundry room and realizes that the girl, Ivy, actually lives in his building. After a chilly first encounter, Ivy and Jared become friends, although Jared wants to be much more, falling in love with the sweet, humble girl he knows in real life. Obsessed with one aspect of the woman and in love with the other, Jared has to figure out how to deal with his deep feelings, especially after he finds out that she has a boyfriend.

What Works

Some may feel that Streamer crosses the line, jumping over slow burn territory and smack dab into snail’s pace-land, but I disagree. Like Lucky McKee’s Roman, Bratt uses repetition to show how mundane and mediocre his life is, and this, along with the initial YouTube video, does a lot to set the mood for the story. I loved that Bratt showed what it was like to have someone take up residence in your head while you beg, plead and scream at them to leave you alone. As he tries to get her out of his mind, we see her physically clinging to him, seducing and torturing him with her words – or, the words he imagines she would say. Sometimes you’re not even aware that he’s dreaming up some part of their relationship until he wakes up alone, talking to himself.

One of my favorite aspects of Streamer was the sound design and editing from Dante Winkler. Hidden within the film are the nearly silent beep, buzz and hum of an internet modem, as well as the click/hiss of a cigarette lighter. These sounds were inserted seamlessly to the background music and added a nearly subconscious note to the film that I thought was subtle yet imperative.

What Doesn’t Work

As a horror film, Steamer let me down a bit. There’s no standard horror here – although the idea of being alone and caught rushing into feelings for someone with no one around to talk you down does feel like a pretty horrible place to be. I’m not saying this is a drawback to the film in any way, but to horror fans, Streamer will feel a bit lacking. I also thought that Bratt tried to use every trick he learned in film school when he made this movie. Incorporating a few ideas like B&W to color transition and irregular camera angles would have been enough. He didn’t need to stuff so many of his filmmaking eggs into one basket – scene shot through the eye of of a DSLR camera, I’m looking at you. These are such minor gripes that they’re barely worth mentioning. Don’t take these as reasons to skip over this film. Not at all.

Final Thoughts

As I watched Streamer, I found myself becoming nearly as obsessed with Jared Bratt as he was with Ivy. His acting is raw, awkward and heartbreaking. I could relate to his character in a way that I’ve never experienced before in film. I could see where he was going and it made me cringe, but I could also see myself doing the exact same things he did and getting the same results, even though I knew it wouldn’t end well. Bratt has created a raw, ragged, realistic view into the mind of a man who will do anything to be noticed and loved. Check out the film’s official site and give the Streamer Facebook page a like. And be prepared to hear more about Jared Bratt here at PopHorror.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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