Starring Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, and Emma Louise Webb
Written by Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Shepherd
Directed by Rob Savage
Hype can certainly be a dangerous thing. When a film is released and the smallest bit of buzz builds around it, the internet might call it “the next truly great horror film”. It’s inevitable that, as viewers, we’re let down by that hype machine and when Rob Savage’s Host dropped (now available via Shudder), the buzz was epic, to say the least. What sets the Zoom-based supernatural chiller apart from other much-hyped entries is this: Host doesn’t just live up to every ounce of word of mouth it’s receiving, it’s a groundbreaking film that will be just as important as The Blair Witch Project in terms of showing what can be done with innovation and frightening storytelling.
We’ve all endured Zoom meetings during this COVID-filled, quarantined existence. Those annoying moments of figuring out audio hiccups, having two devices interfering with each other, and various other frustrating as all hell connection issues. Taking that approach and putting it into a story of a group of friends holding an online séance gone wrong, Host does an excellent job of giving you very relatable characters and solid, believable performances. There’s a camaraderie between the characters that feels very authentic, making it that much more terrifying when they let a malevolent spirit into their séance.
Right before the shocks and scares drop in, Host uses subtlety exceptionally well. We get more than just your simple jump scares; the terrifying moments in this hour-long gem are a perfect combination of subtlety and shockingly in-your-face frights, each one-upping the one that came before it, scaring the living hell out of its characters and, more importantly, its viewers. Host is most definitely not a one-trick pony, each moment of terror feels very different from the previous one, adding such a tense, absolutely SCARY tone that will keep the most die-hard horror lover up at night.
While some characters take the séance seriously, the joking approach that others hold makes the story a fun one to watch. You really don’t know where the film is going for the first half, until that carelessness that some brought to the séance begins to not only anger whatever it is they unleashed but leads it from person to person in eerie ways. The Zoom app angle of the film works so well for this. As an audience member, you find yourself looking and searching for the smallest signs of what will show up behind or in front each character, your eyes shifting from window to window, while you’re on the edge of your seat, with your hands covering most of your eyes.
It’s rare for a film to not only live up to its reputation and hype but also proudly and confidently leave its mark on both the genre and filmmaking in general, with its ability to tell innovative and captivating stories. The Blair Witch Project, though not the very first found footage film ever crated, showed what thinking outside the box can do for the genre, and Host is another film that takes a fresh way of storytelling and gives horror fans the scariest film of the past decade. What a great time to be a horror fan.
It’s rare for a film to not only live up to its reputation and hype but also proudly and confidently leave its mark on both the genre and filmmaking in general, with its ability to tell innovative and captivating stories.