The YouTuber movie is one that’s often been considered very specific. Usually, they are comedies that star and/or are made by a YouTube content creator specifically to appease their fanbase. None of these are what you can consider future Oscar contenders, but as long as they succeed in satisfying their target audience, they’ll be perfectly fine. Right?
If the history of these movies is anything to go by though, a ton of YouTuber movies aren’t particularly successful in winning this niche fanbase, let alone general audiences. In a way, it almost seems like the sheer amount of terrible movies with a YouTuber’s name on them has set back one of YouTube’s primary appeals in the first place. This is, of course, the platform’s unique ability to allow creatives to find a platform for their work, eventually building up to bigger projects.
However, the idea of the successful YouTuber creative may now have been achieved rather than thought in the abstract. Daniel and Michael Philippou, who previously operated a viral YouTube channel under the name RackaRacka, have started their potential takeover of the mainstream horror genre with their directorial debut, “Talk to Me.” After finding critical success at the 2023 Sundance and Berlinale film festivals, A24 has brought the brothers’ modern ghost story to SXSW. With many YouTubers having failed in their attempts to do serious filmmaking, where did the Philippous go right? Let’s investigate.
A Very Repetitive History Of YouTuber Films
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority of YouTube-related movies have been comedies. The first film under this niche subgenre was 2008’s “Ryan and Sean’s Not So Excellent Adventure,” starring YouTubers Ryan Higa and Sean Fujiyoshi. Lucas Cruikshank and his Fred Figglehorn character then released three consecutive movies from 2010 to 2012, as did the controversial Channel Awesome network of creators. Moving away from low-hanging-fruit comedies, 2012 also cursed us with the Internet horror “Smiley,” which starred Shane Dawson and Toby Turner. Other prominent examples are Logan Paul’s attempt at sci-fi called “The Thinning” and Red Letter Media’s crowdfunded passion project, “Space Cop.”
Surprisingly, however, there are few YouTuber movies actually directed by YouTubers themselves. The first instances of this were the aforementioned Channel Awesome trilogy of trash, all directed by Doug Walker. Former Channel Awesome associate Lewis Lovhaug, also known as Linkara, directed his “Atop The Fourth Wall: The Movie” in 2014. That same year also saw the arrival of Dawson’s infamous “Not Cool,” and 2017 brought us “F The Prom” by Benny and Rafi Fine from React Media.
Whether the YouTubers themselves were behind the camera or not, they all seemed to share a similar critical reception. Almost all of these movies were poorly received, more or less amounting to vanity projects that focus on how cool the YouTubers think they are.
Why Talk To Me Works
“Talk to Me” is a very different type of movie from the aforementioned ones. It may not be a coincidence, then, that it can be considered the best YouTuber movie that currently exists. For starters, Daniel and Michael Philippou don’t actually appear in the film, nor do any of their associates. Their involvement in the film — as joint directors, and co-writer in Daniel’s case — is not a gimmick, but rather a genuine extension of their work.
The second critical part of the success of “Talk to Me” is that the film utilizes the strengths of the RackaRacka channel while also adapting them effectively for the big screen. The Philippous gained their audience through their wild skits, many of which involved practical gory and stuntwork effects that tested YouTube’s content guidelines. Many of these wouldn’t exactly work in a full-length feature film, and unlike other YouTubers, they recognized that beforehand. As a result, the Philippous worked with established writer Daley Pearson to figure out the best possible story. That collaboration is evident when you watch the film, as it blends the duo’s typical humor and penchant for shock, with more mature and genuinely scary ideas.
It’s a miracle that “Talk to Me” got the directors it did. While the Philippous are certainly no strangers to the online influencer world, they weren’t funding the movie themselves. Instead, they primarily relied on outside grants to get the film off the ground. For such a low-budget movie, the effects are pretty damn impressive.
Can Truly Great Films Come From YouTube Creators?
While the history of the YouTuber film has largely been negative, it’s unfair to write off all YouTube creators as incapable of making the jump into filmmaking to some degree. Even if the majority of YouTuber movies have been cynical cash grabs for their prospective subjects, it doesn’t mean that all other movies in that subgenre need to be that way. It’s just that the creators that could make great movies oftentimes don’t have the audience or resources to fully realize their vision.
However, if “Talk to Me” proves anything, it’s that beyond clickbaity influencers, YouTube is helping foster creative forces that are ripe for studios to fund. Longtime YouTube critic Chris Stuckmann is gearing up to release his crowdfunded horror “Shelby Oaks” later this year. A24 and Atomic Monster recently struck a deal with teenage creator Kane Parsons to adapt his series of short films based on the “Backrooms” creepypastas into a feature. When the right creators get the platform and backing they deserve, they can create truly great pieces of art. Here’s to hoping “Talk to Me” sets a new standard for studios looking to uplift the work of Internet creators.
A24 will release “Talk to Me” in theaters later this year.
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The post The Directors of Talk to Me Aren’t The First YouTubers to Release a Movie, But They’re Certainly The Best appeared first on /Film.
/Film – The Directors Of Talk To Me Aren’t The First YouTubers To Release A Movie, But They’re Certainly The Best
Author: Erin Brady
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March 11, 2023