#CHADGETSTHEAXE Review: A Streaming Horror For The Kids, That Old Folks Can Still Appreciate
Four social media influencers livestream their trip to Devil's Manor, the former home to a satanic cult. As their investigation goes on what they thought was a lark, a fun gig to get more views, may turn out to be their fatal, last webcast as the cult may not be so ‘former’ after all.
#chadgetsthesaxe is a neat mix of Streaming horror and a dash of Screenlife horror. Director Travis Bible understands the two subgenres and the tools (apps) streamers use while doing what they do. He impresses us with his use of it as we watch our four influencers flip through a multitude of apps and features on their phones. Like their followers, we are watching as this haunted house adventure goes along. Do not be surprised if you instinctively reach for your phone or tablet to comment on what you’re watching (too soon to call that an ‘old habit’?).
So, this horror comedy further expands the use of the medium(s). What Bible also does, to distinguish his film from another popular streaming horror that came out last year is make greater use of the property around Devil’s Manor. Four people streaming from their phones increases the playing field - the number of areas streaming from at the same time - and the dynamics of the action as well. It gets really interesting later on when you start to ask whose perspective are you looking through now.
As commentary, Chad is the absolute worst example of an influencer. He’s loud and obnoxious, shouting out to his “Chadpions” throughout the stream. He pokes fun at and insults Steve on the regular. Steve obviously puts up with him for the sake of getting views, because Chad takes the piss out of him constantly. It sets up an empathetic character in Steve. It seems obvious to us that Chad is an embodiment of someone like the Paul brothers. There are things that happen throughout the story that echo or are similar to occurrences that a pair of influencers had gone through over the years. The addition of the glamor couple, Speniffer, only increases the number of potential victims.
The movie has an understanding of the lure of more views. As the number of viewers rises Chad and Steve are egged on to do more ‘stupid things’, to push that edge of good sensibilities. At first, it is a dare, “If we get so many viewers we’ll do this, now that we have that many let’s get this many then we’ll do that”. Later on though, when they should be running for their lives and surviving, they go back into the fray because those viewer numbers are just so juicy.
All four of them schill products and merch lines, as influencers are wont to do. We don’t know if we’ve become dulled to influencer culture, It’s such a constant presence in our everyday consumption of popular culture now that this doesn’t even phase us. They’re all so consumed with likes and follows that when the views skyrocket it's an endorphin rush.
As a horror flick, Bible, together with co-writer Brandon Doyle (who has a small role in the movie) creates some very creepy moments in the early goings. It starts with a discovery in one of the rooms. It continues with a shadow behind one of our streamers and keeps going with something in the camera that only their followers see until it is too late. The creepiness is real in this one, folks. It is all very well executed and effective.
There is at least one solid jump scare as the story escalates further and further out of control. There is a little bit of gore in the climax that is used mostly to emphasize how fucked the situation has gotten. Still, #chadgetstheaxe is best when it is creepy and builds tension. It gets deadly interesting when perspectives begin to shift as well.
We approached our viewing of #chadgetstheaxe with some understandable apprehension. We are not a part of the influencer culture and it is probably the first time in a while that an age group has made our own age apparent to us (The first time was while watching any of the glut of MTV non-scripted programs in the early 00s… fucking hell). There is the frustration felt on our behalf in the self-serving culture that influencers have - looking out for only themselves - you scratch my back I’ll stab yours. Then there are the damning closing credits, which are not afraid to take shots at influencer culture either.
If anything, maybe, just maybe, it gave us a little bit of appreciation for the hustle these young adults take on to make bank. It’s unhealthy as fuck, kowtowing to the whims of complete strangers, but it’s hustle all the same. Chad’s journey is not entirely one note though. Faced with the realization that his ‘friends’ are in deep trouble he has to decide if he is only going to save his own skin on this deadly night. If he takes up the mantle of hero does he do it to save his friends, or, does he do it to get more views?
We appreciated Bible’s stab at the streaming horror genre. He furthers its presentation, maximizing the technology’s representation on and in-screen. Together with his co-writer, he has created characters that by and large younger horror audiences will relate to better than the old guard will. That is his target audience here and we old fogies just have to accept it.
Regardless of your vintage #chadgetstheaxe is effectively creepy at the right time. It may not score high on points with gore but there are plenty of moments throughout this flick where you just have to say, ‘cool’, or whatever it is the kids are saying these days. I don’t know, I’m ever closer to oblivion than this target audience is.
#chadgetstheaxe is now available on Amazon, AppleTV, GogglePlay and Vimeo.