Host (2020) – Film Review
Low-budget Lockdown horror Host follows in the footsteps of some seminal scary movies. Just like what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for swimming in the sea, Host will make you scared to go back into a video call.
Horror movies about technology are nothing new. The genre has always moved with the times to reflect changes in society and advancements in tech. Poltergeist used the television. The Ring had a cursed video tape. One Missed Call saw evil spread through a mobile phone. Now Host turns the one of the few good things to emerge through Lockdown against us. Many people have turned to Zoom to stay connected with work and, more importantly, with friends. Some may log off permanently following this 57 adrenaline-fuelled group chat.
Six friends hire a medium to hold a seance via Zoom during lock down – but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.
The film itself is not groundbreaking in its format. Recent films such as Friend Unfriended and Searching have played out entirely within computer screens.
What director Rob Savage and writers Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd do so well is to squeeze every last drop of tension and terror out of the concept. The tight framing of the video chat windows, the lighting and sound desing all play their part in generating a true sense of fear. They are clearly fans of the genre because even with a limited time frame, they manage to set up and pay off a lot of moments and sub-plots. Such as Haley’s cupboard that won’t shut properly due to household items like an ironing board. Or Radina’s faltering lockdown relationship.
One of the reasons it works so well is because of the format. The virtual group chat is something that the majority of people will have tried and taken part in during lockdown. At the start it feels as though we are simply eavesdropping on a group of friends having their weekly catch up. Thanks to the bond the actors have built between themselves, it is easy to get a real sense of their relationship and group dynamic. Audiences can put themselves into the protagonist’s shoes and wonder how they would act and react in this situation. Well, within the realms of movie logic that doesn’t simply involve ending the call and getting the f*ck out of the house!
It is a highly effective chiller that warrant multiple viewings as you find yourself scanning every inch of the frame for hidden dangers. A feat made more difficult as you try to track six-seven screens at the same time. Plus the frequency of the jumps and scares increases as the time limit on the call runs out.
If ever there was a film that made you wish for lockdown to be over and you could back in the office doing meetings face-to-face, this is it. That or switch to Microsoft Teams!
How would you rate this call? Host is easily the scariest film to be released during lockdown and one of the best horrors of 2020.
Host is available to stream on Shudder.
Director: Rob Savage
Stars: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward
Runtime: 57 minutes