What the world is going through right now is insane; Covid has consumed the way we do everything from working and eating to entertainment and socializing. Fear of the virus has been keeping people locked away in their homes doing their best to avoid public gatherings, and one of the best ways to pass the time when your city is in lockdown is obviously video-chatting with your friends! Writers Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Shepherd took quarantine one step further these last few months and turned their lockdown due to Covid-19 into the basis of their new hit horror film HOST which was released on Shudder on July 30th. Savage directed the found footage horror film and the team all worked from home to create a quick yet effective little horror flick which is quite literally Paranormal Activity but quarantine edition! The film is the product of twelve weeks of hard work - from conception to delivery on Shudder - and honestly the final product will offer you a fun, creative and jumpy experience. I saw all of the hype surrounding this movie the last two weeks and knew I had to find out if it lived up to all of the praise its been getting, and I gotta admit: while it is far from anything groundbreaking or a film that will leave a significant impact on you, it does it job, and that is to entertain viewers. There's jumpscares that come out of nowhere, there's some really creative use of Zoom's features that play a great role in the film, and there's some minor twists and turns you might not see coming. I dug it, and I think you'll dig it.
Host is probably going to be the most relevant horror film you'll ever see, it takes place during quarantine while many cities worldwide were in quarantine. In the movie, a group of friends (all girls except one guy, who disconnects early on) meet weekly on Zoom - the video meeting app - to virtually get together and do activities. Haley (Haley Bishop) decides it would be fun for the group to bring in a medium named Seylan to lead a séance where they attempt to contact someone from the other side. Haley begs her friends to please be respectful of the séance and to take it seriously, but of course, someone has to mess around and mock the spirits, and from there, shit hits the fan. The spirits are pissed and they have no intention of hiding it; the girls begin to experience phenomena that cannot be explained - initially small things that eventually begin to get more and more serious - and the worst part is, Seylan connection is lost and she isn't there to help. Eventually she rejoins the group, and as she works them through trying to close the circle and send the naughty spirit back to the realm of the dead, things continue to escalate and take a turn for the worse. Can the girls send the spirit back to where it came from, or did they open a portal they cannot close through video chat?! Find out in... HOST!
If I'm going to be honest, I'm going to have to say that for creativity and relevancy, this film scores very highly. We've seen a handful of horror films that take place entirely through computer screens - hell, even a video game livestream - but Host feels different. Maybe it's because it's what my friends and I have been doing for the last few months, maybe it's because the film was actually shot remotely with everyone filming and even doing practical effects on their own; I don't know. But what I do know is that while the film doesn't feel like it'll be a household name, it certainly does enough that I think most horror fans would at least say "heh" to. The film is entirely dependent on jumpscares for its effectiveness, and while I know many seasoned horror fans may not be the biggest fans of its use, what Host does with it, it does right. The scares are cleverly (and uncomfortably) placed and as the film continues on, they get crazier, more erratic and way more shocking and gory. If that sounds like a good time to you, don't waste anymore time not watching the movie! For a film done in just twelve weeks with everyone working from their homes during actual quarantine, it's very impressive. The girls who are a part of the call - including the medium Seylan - do a phenomenal job playing up their roles and their characters. You'll find that they all have different personalities they're bringing to the Zoom call, and that's only part of the fun to be had.
If Paranormal Activity bred with Unfriended sounds like a good time to you, head on over to Shudder and boot up HOST. I think you'll enjoy your short 57 minute feature; and hey, if not, it's only 57 minutes - you didn't even waste an entire hour! Check it out!!