Death of a Vlogger (2020)

Today, cameras are our eyes in the world, and they are no guarantee of the truth. Webcams are ubiquitous. We can all see others and be seen. Social media not only allows that, but quantifies it, and worse, monetises it. We can see how much we are being seen and, sadly, interpret it as how much we are worth.

Video blogger Graham wants to make a name for himself online. When one of his videos seems to prove ghosts exist, it goes viral. He gets the attention he craves, but there is also money to be made, and paranormal investigator Steve joins forces with him to make the most of the opportunity.

Graham and Steve are working in the attention economy. The absurdity of that becomes clear when we watch Gabrielle, who runs a channel debunking the paranormal, film an interview with Graham and Steve, while they film her filming them for their channel, and all the while she has a secret camera recording it all. Everyone has an angle. (There is an ingenious scene that plays with angles, using a 360-degree camera at an online seance.)

As Graham’s mental health deteriorates, the stakes get higher, and it feels less like a game. We are as unsure of what is really happening as he is. Unlike the isolated characters in Pulse, Graham has a channel to broadcast on. A lot has changed in twenty years, but people still feel lonely, and they want to be seen. But as both films demonstrate, so do the dead.

Letterboxd: Death of a Vlogger (2020), dir. Graham Hughes.