Running Time: 56 mins.
Where Can You See It?: Shudder
Premise: Six friends decide to conduct a seance during a quarantine Zoom call (as you do), and the spirit they conjure starts making its evil presence known in increasingly dangerous ways. If COVID-19 doesn't kill them, this spirit sure will.
Behind-the-Scenes: A true novelty - this film was written, directed and filmed during quarantine. Streaming exclusively on Shudder. British director Robert Savage was reportedly inspired by a real-life medium telling him that their business was thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Good: This minimalist horror film is way better than it should be, and quickly overcomes what could be perceived as a mere gimmick. Equal parts Unfriended and Paranormal Activity, Host is a creative exercise in coming up with novel ways to scare jaded horror fans in a time of limited filming opportunities. It's actually pretty nerve-wracking too. I had to look away or divert my eyes to the corner of the screen for large chunks of it. The mostly British cast are all good enough actors to make you feel for their thinly-sketched characters when bad things start happening to them. And, at 56 minutes, it's a breeze to get through. That's barely even feature length!
The Bad: Predictably, like most horror movies, Host spends about half its running time in setup mode. As a viewer, you know exactly where it's going plot-wise at every moment. Jaded Zoom users may instantly tire of the idea of watching unknown characters participate in a Zoom call. It's like watching someone else play a video game. The end result plays more like an above average Black Mirror episode than an actual movie.
Should You See It?: Yeah, if you're a horror fan, I think you owe it to yourself to check this one out. I recommend watching it on your phone with the lights off and headphones on, and the sound turned way up.
Star Rating: *** out of 5 stars
Better Than: Searching, Blair Witch Project
Worse Than: Unfriended, Paranormal Activity
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