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“The Sudbury Devil” | YouTube Movies Done Right

“The Sudbury Devil” is a movie made by a YouTuber that doesn’t suck. That’s not that common.

Sudbury Devil - poster with John (Benton Guinness) looking hopelessly at the sky
John Fletcher (Benton Guinness) looking hopelessly at the sky. Credit: Atun-Shei Films

After nearly four years in the making, YouTuber Andrew Rakich’s indie horror film is finally available for streaming!

“The Sudbury Devil” is an incredible movie. It follows two Puritan magistrates from Boston investigating reports of witchcraft and devilry. They explore the woods of Sudbury, and the series of events that follow transforms and horrifies them.

It’s a great film. Many critics have compared it to “The Witch,” and I can say that the comparison is damn-near equal. Throughout the historically accurate fable, there is a great critique of American culture and Christian beliefs. However, there is much more to interpret and gather from this film. It all comes down to who and what may be considered devilry.

Isaac (Matthew Van Gessel), Josiah (Josh Popa), and John (Benton Guinness) - from left to right - explore the woods of Sudbury. Credit: Atun-Shei Films
Isaac (Matthew Van Gessel), Josiah (Josh Popa), and John (Benton Guinness) – from left to right – explore the woods of Sudbury. Credit: Atun-Shei Films

Also, it’s worth mentioning a potential content warning. Those who are photosensitive may want to be careful in some scenes in the latter half. There are also some scenes that contain historically accurate bigotry – period-appropriate but still difficult. That, and of course, the potentially uncomfortable moments of sex for some. It’s meant to make the viewer uncomfortable, but the warnings are still there.

Overall, “The Sudbury Devil” is a great film, and it’s worth the watch. 8/10. But, I don’t want to just talk about the qualities of the film. To me, there is a crucial factor that makes this film particularly special: it’s a movie by a YouTuber. “The Sudbury Devil” is a movie made by a YouTuber that doesn’t suck. That’s not that common.

Andrew Rakich | Atun-Shei Films

Andrew Rakich in his workspace.
Andrew Rakich in his workspace. Credit: Atun-Shei Films/YouTube

The director of the film, Andrew Rakich, has an interesting story.

Raised in New England then moving to New Orleans, Rakich is primarily an independent filmmaker. He has also worked as a tour guide at historical sites at Gettysburg and New Orleans. When he created his YouTube channel, he merged his love of filmmaking and history together to make something really incredible.

Rakich’s YouTube channel is based off his own production company, Atun-Shei Films. His channel primarily focuses on filmmaking and American history, especially its darker elements. His most famous series is “Checkmate Lincolnites,” debunking the Lost Cause Myth and other misconceptions surrounding the Civil War.

He announced production for “The Sudbury Devil” in March of 2020, with an Indiegogo campaign for $6,000. After the pandemic and the growth of his channel, Rakich’s film would come to life. Finally, the film was finished and debuted at the Satanic Temple in September of 2023. As of December 2023, it is available on the Atun-Shei Films website for purchase or rent.

This is not Andrew Rakich’s first film. He previously made two other films called “Alien Baby!” in 2017 and “Into the Wildwood” in 2018. Rakich’s technical prowess is present throughout this film, as well as the dedication from both him and his crew.

It makes sense that a filmmaker would make movies, so why do YouTubers make movies then?

Why YouTubers Make Movies

Fred (Lucas Cruikshank) buried in the sand up to his head, screaming.
Fred (Lucas Cruikshank) buried in the sand up to his head, screaming. Credit: Derf Films

With how prevalent YouTube is in the entertainment industry, it’s easy to forget how weird its existence is.

For context, most film production companies came about as necessities to finance and distribute movies as products. Meanwhile, three random dudes made YouTube so they could share a video joking about elephant cocks. Not your usual rags-to-riches story.

After Google purchased YouTube in 2006, the site gradually grew in both viewers and commercial opportunities. Online content would later eclipse television in viewership, and many content creators would become celebrities in their own right.

Consider this from a commercial perspective. Imagine you run a successful YouTube channel that entertains over a million subscribers and growing. If you were to make a full-length movie, you would already have a guaranteed audience. That audience could be even bigger with a production company backing you up.

It sounds like a great idea, it should work… should.

The problem with many movies made by YouTubers is they’re often not made with the intent of making good movies. They’re made with the intent of making money. It’s rather shallow and seems less like cinema more like content.

Also, these are content creators, not filmmakers. I’m not discrediting these people, but making YouTube videos is completely different from making movies. I’d say it’s also a different medium. So, many of these YouTuber movies can often feel, how you say… agonizing.

“And then this Happens…”

Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox scream in the backseat of a car. Credit: Smosh Productions
Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox scream in the backseat of a car. Credit: Smosh Productions

Probably the most common type of YouTuber movies, especially the older ones, are ones where things just happen. There’s less of a plot or story but more of a series of loosely connected events. I like to call these kinds of YouTuber movies “the lists” or the “and then this happens…” movies.

Examples of “and then this happens…” movies would include “Fred: The Movie,” “Smosh: The Movie,” and most recently “Airplane Mode.” These movies can be exhausting to watch, not because so much is happening, but rather so little.

As dull and forgettable as these movies can get, they’re also probably the least offensive. They’re obviously the most soulless, being blatant cash grabs showing off the stars, but they’re not the worst. That’ll come up soon.

The Good ol’ Not Good

The Nerd (James Rolfe) talks to an alien (Robbie Rist) in a spaceship. Credit: Cinemassacre Productions
The Nerd (James Rolfe) talks to an alien (Robbie Rist) in a spaceship. Credit: Cinemassacre Productions

Now, we’re getting on to some truly atrocious excuses for movies. While these actually do have stories that can be followed, that doesn’t make any of these any good. These are probably the most insufferable just for how incompetent they are, while still being so amateur.

Examples of these would include “Not Cool,” “F the Prom,” and “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.” Aside from having rather generic plots, most of these movies typically rely on edgy humor. However, the joke just tends to be focusing on the edginess or the grossness and nothing else. It makes for some really uncomfortable and pointless moments, such as jokes surrounding rape and sexualizing minors.

All I can feel from these movies is pain.

The Channel Awesome Movies

The Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker). Credit: Channel Awesome.
The Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker). Credit: Channel Awesome.

The Channel Awesome movies are more than just the worst YouTuber movies ever made. No, no, no. The Channel Awesome movies are among the worst movies ever made. Even if you subtract the controversies from the experience, there is no reason nor benefit to watching these.

“Kickassia,” “Suburban Knights,” “To Boldly Flee,” and “Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie.” Know them and avoid them. Seriously, please don’t watch these.

What Makes “The Sudbury Devil” Different

A standstill between Jonatan Fletcher (Benton Guinness) and a Wampanoag warrior (Drew Shupter-Rayvis) during the King Philips War. Credit: Atun-Shei Films
A standstill between Jonatan Fletcher (Benton Guinness) and a Wampanoag warrior (Drew Shupter-Rayvis) during the King Philip War. Credit: Atun-Shei Films

The idea of the YouTuber movie seems rather different now than it was back in the 2010s. They are definitely less prevalent, and some may even say they’re dead. I would reword it.

Perhaps people don’t want YouTuber movies; they want good movies by YouTubers. Hell, just good movies, made with actual intent and care. And I can safely say that Andrew Rakich delivers on that promise and more.

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