HOST – Film Review

Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance over Zoom during lockdown but get far more than they bargain for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.

I know what you’re thinking after reading the synopsis for Rob Savage’s Host, and I wouldn’t blame you. “Another found footage movie?” or “Another one of those tired horror films that use computers and technology as a gimmick?”. I completely hear you and I understand. As a matter of fact, I was thinking the exact same thing before watching this film.

This whole trend of technology-driven horror movies essentially kickstarted back in 2014 with the release of the successful Unfriended, which saw a couple of teenagers get haunted via a Skype call. While the movie was absolutely not without its faults, it was fairly effective but not too memorable. But since the original did so well, they decided to make a sequel which ended up being quite bad.

I’ve seen quite the number of these types of movies before, but I have never seen a movie like Host. This is not only the greatest technology-driven horror film out there, but one of the best films of the year. It’s made all the more impressive when you realize a number of factors. For one, the movie was made entirely during quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It basically shut down production on every major Hollywood picture. Plans for Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Dominion had to be put on a halt indefinitely due to health concerns. For a while, we were completely in the dark as to when filmmakers would be able to even shoot movies again.

But Rob Savage came up with the excellent idea to make a new horror film while not even having to leave his own home. Nobody in the film had to. This movie takes place entirely during a Zoom call. The most terrifying Zoom call to ever be made, even if it is fictitious. The fact that Savage was able to craft such a tightly-woven and eerily effective horror picture with little time and resources is mind-boggling.

Haley Bishop as Haley in Host (2020).

With Host, we waste no time getting into this story. Seeing as how the film clocks in at a total of fifty-seven minutes in length, there is only so much the filmmakers can do. You can’t spend twenty minutes doing nothing but character development because then, you only have thirty minutes to get to the actual scares. Instead of fleshing out characters, the movie instead opts to show us how close these friends really are with one another. They joke around a lot and in general feel extremely warm and cozy when talking to each other. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of these actors were best friends in real life because they certainly feel like it here.

All of the acting is seriously impressive as well. I didn’t know a single actor involved with this project but was absolutely blown away by the end after watching their talents on display. They feel like veteran actors who have had years of experience and several movies under their belts with their extremely realistic cries and emotional range. Sometimes, the line between reality and fiction was blurred with how real they felt in their roles.

It’s so mesmerizing that Host is as scary as it is too. There is only so much you can do to scare an audience while showing nothing but a computer screen. That, plus the fact that this film was made during a global pandemic and there was little to no resources for the filmmakers to use besides technology. Almost every passing scene here gets more intense and frightening than the last. There became a point in the movie, at around the twenty-minute mark or so, when the tension became almost unbearable to the point where I was actually tensed up which rarely happens to me. All of this leads to a third act that is genuinely bonkers and goes in a direction that I truly never saw coming.

There isn’t much at all to complain about when it comes to Host. If I were to pick the biggest issue it would have to be the usage of jump scares every once in a while. There are some moments where you feel as though a certain scene is building to something, only for there to be a loud noise accompanied by a strange image onscreen. I have never been a fan of jump scares, but here, they are certainly more tolerable than in most movies. Those that are looking for a short but heavily effective watch don’t need to look any further. Host is an absolute delight for fans of the genre or newcomers.

Host is a tremendously intense and nerve-racking technology-driven horror film with excellent acting and great direction from Rob Savage.

Overall Grade: A-

MPAA Rating: N/A

Cast: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Teddy Linard, Seylan Baxter, Alan Emrys, Patrick Ward, Jinny Lofthouse, Jack Brydon, James Swanton

Directed by: Rob Savage

Distributed by: Shudder

Release Date: July 30, 2020

Running Time: 57 minutes

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