Host (2020)

Director: Rob Savage
Writer: Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd
Cast: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Edward Linard, Seylan Baxter
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 19.6.2021

Haley (Haley Bishop) has asked her friends Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Caroline (Caroline Ward), Jemma (Jemma Moore), Radina (Radina Drandova) and Teddy (Edward Linard) to join her in a zoom seance led by Seylan (Seylan Baxter). Not all of them are taking it seriously, but then strange things start happening.

It was probably inevitable that the Corona pandemic would produce some kind of homebrewed zoom horror. But what definitely couldn’t be expected is that it is a freaking fantastic and absolutely terrifying homebrewed zoom horror. And yet, here Host is, everything you could hope for.

The film poster showing Haley's (Haley Bishop) eyes brimming with tears at the top and Emma (Emma Louise Webb) hiding under a bedsheet at the bottom.

Host proves that you don’t need a big budget, a long runtime or fancy special effects to make a damn scary film – all it takes is a good cast and a bit of inventiveness and you can make things work perfectly.

The film uses the zoom set-up extremely well, and not just with the more simple things like switching between gallery and speaker view, but also with the “fancier” bits like filter apps or video backgrounds. I don’t want to give too much away, because seeing how they use the program is really cool.

Screenshot of a zoom call with Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Caroline (Caroline Ward), Haley (Haley Bishop), Jemma (Jemma Moore) and Radina (Radina Drandova). They are all looking distressed, but to varying degrees.

The film does have a nice sense of humor, but apart from a few moments and the more lighthearted beginning, the overall atmosphere is really, really scary. Props to the actors who actually set up most of the special effects (simple, but effective) themselves as they shot the film in their actual homes during social distancing, but also simply to the acting and the pacing of the story. Also, I really liked the explanation given here for the events unfolding – made a surprising amount of sense.

In short, I was really impressed by pretty much everything about this small, effective film that is so much a product of its time, and yet manages to have staying power, I’m sure.

A face filter mask floating in thin air.

Summarizing: see it, definitely worth it.

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