I started this movie not expecting much. I am not a paranormal fan, found footage is not a favorite genre. I tend to go against the grain when it comes to these movies. I love Cloverfield, it’s a guilty pleasure I turn to when I’m feeling sick. You don’t have to think about it, just enjoy the ride. Paranormal Activity is not a bad series, but the long drawn out moments where absolutely nothing is happening makes them such a snooze. So, I went into Host happy to hear it was a smooth 57 minutes long. Even if it let me down, I only lost an hour. Then to my surprise, I spent that hour growing increasingly tense and engaged. It’s hard to scare me, I watch too many movies, specifically horror, to be easily frightened by any movie, but the tension did affect me. I was concerned and uncomfortable as supernatural phenomena began to change the participants of the séance. As the action increased, I worried more and became more focused on the screen. I recommend this movie for any horror/thriller fan. I also recommend watching the film on your laptop instead of the big screen for the best experience.
The film originated from a zoom prank gone viral that Rob Savage decided could become a film. Proof that from boredom, creativity can blossom. Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jeb Sheppard managed to create something unique with Host. This movie’s small zoom room experience pulls the watcher in and makes them feel like they are a part of the film. As we sit home during the pandemic, we have all begun to use Zoom like platforms to connect with friends, family, and co-workers on an almost daily basis. The familiarity with the medium provides the viewer with a connection to the actors that we don’t typically experience as we view a movie. I often sit in on meetings watching others, listening to them talk, maybe letting my mind wander. These experiences have become mundane. Now they can terrify.
Filmed entirely using social distancing practices with each actor separated in real life, the movie essentially captures pandemic life. Fantastically the director pulled in a wonderful female writer, Gemma Hurley, to add to the script, so the story points are there filled in with a believable female perspective and dynamic. The actor’s conversations are organic and feel unscripted because, for the most part, they are. To understand how the script was developed, a great interview was done on Nightmare on Film Street Podcast with the Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jeb Sheppard, Fantastic listen!
As the Séance continues, the scares begin, and Haley’s friends do not take things seriously despite initial warnings. This is how things start to fall apart. It had me begin to wonder, who will get it first, what will happen, but of course, I got it wrong (YES!). As the scares increased, I could feel my heart beat faster and harder in my chest, something that rarely happens. The small rooms and subtlety of the background changes encourage multiple viewings. Especially if you want to get all the reference to other movies within the film, let the Easter eggs rain!
While I loved the movie, I wonder how the audience will look at this piece in the future. How well will it age? We now respond so well to the film because it is so timely. It speaks perfectly to the life everyone is living. The directors and writers themselves understood that they needed to get this out quickly because it was a part of this phenomenon. But classics are timeless; they have a quality that speaks beyond the time for which they are apart. Is this art going to transcend the isolation and fear of COVID to touch future audiences?
Written by Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Sheppard
Cast Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise, Webb Radina, Drandova, Caroline Ward, Teddy Linard, and Seylan Baxter
Directed by Rob Savage
Edited by Brenna Rangott
Available on Shudder
Release Date: July 30, 2020