Written and directed by lead actor Jared Bratt and Vincent Pun, an isolated young man becomes obsessed with a webcam girl who lives in his building and befriends her, despite conflicted feelings. Also starring: Tanya Lee and Brennan Pedde.
There have been many films touching upon the line between obsession and affection over the years, having more recently taken a turn for the more technologically inclined, which is where Streamer comes in. It very quickly touches upon the classic toxicity that can sprout from loneliness and vulnerability, causing a quick change from caring to dangerous resentment. Early on it creates an unusual atmosphere in that it doesn’t immediately pick a side or perspective, it’s not clear whether it’s intending for you to sympathise with or be wary of Jared.
While that’s something that does work initially, as it creates a layer of intrigue to have that uncertainty, as time goes on, the film needed to take a stronger stance to give the film a clearer direction or aim. It becomes a larger problem as the film dives deeper into its story, it doesn’t seem to entirely acknowledge Jared’s inappropriate and highly questionable behaviour. More disappointingly, it seems to slightly lean towards the issue being slightly on the part of his obsession, its attitude towards women feels weak and isn’t doing enough to disparage this toxic behaviour on Jared’s part. The alternative option, or redeeming choice, to that might have been to lean into the thriller vein of the story, to really delve into the darkness and allow that toxicity to reach its peak in a more definitive and chilling way.
Bratt’s performance however does set an unnerving and unsettling tone that continues throughout and sets up an exploration of how vulnerable people can be easily led to dangerous behaviour through the slightest disappointments. Not using a score feeds into that by keeping a strong sense of reality and show that events like this do actually have a high rate of possibility in real life. Although ultimately the story goes in exactly the direction that you’d expect it to, it takes the long way around to get there and while it makes some earnest attempts to mess with the psychology of the story, it isn’t quite enough to hold its own. It can also get a little too heavy on the awkwardness at times, it is a valuable tool in a story such as this but it has a varied level of success.
Streamer has a valid point about the increased danger of toxic, aggressive and unpredictable behaviour that can result in our technological age but the way it chooses to make that point is sadly disappointing. There’s a problematic perspective of women that feels uncomfortably unclear which isn’t helped by an, at times, overly palpable awkwardness. You can see what the filmmakers had in mind here but it feels as though its potential lied elsewhere, committing to a daker tone and a thriller atmosphere could have taken it in a stronger direction.