Finally, a ‘found footage’ style film which delivers against its hype; and one I encourage you to make an effort to see.
Set (and filmed I believe) in the recent COVID lockdown, the story follows a group of friends who decide to host an online séance via zoom. Led by a confident medium, she accepts that she’s never done this before, but explains some simple rules to the group; needless to say, they were not heeded…
The films first big win is identifiable before the opening scene, a run time of one hour; and no I’m not being facetious. By strategically cutting the crap that typically plagues movies of this ilk you don’t have to wait long before things get tense. There’s just enough character development to get to know the persona, but again, we are spared the faux banter which often grates rather than intrigues.
The zoom meeting format works surprisingly well, as, being spared the shaky cam, it works to build a very organic atmosphere which forces you to sit, staring into the darkness behind our assailed heroines. I think the spartan setup only enhances the tension really, because you know exactly what you’re waiting for, bracing for really, as the film builds the tension so well, the now infamous jump scare.
Copied so frequently, each iteration , a lesser quality, I’ve gotten used to the cheaply made found footage style films having a load of build-up, culminating in maybe one or two decent jolts, but in ‘Host’ it was quickly made apparent to me that I was not going to be able to sit easy. There is a lot going on in this film as each of the 6 or so participants have their turns at being spiritually assaulted.
I will say this, writer/director, Rob Savage, has certainly researched his chosen medium, and whilst you’ve seen pretty much every single version of the scares found within ‘Host’ somewhere else, what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in abundance; and that was fine with me.
A jump scare is a jump scare, and I would take any day a movie of this ilk moving at a pace so that it entertains, rather than ebbing and flowing between periods of tension and tedium. This film is a bloody assault on the eyes and ears; I dare anyone to watch with headphones. The constant barrage, and the effectiveness of the scares really keeps you on edge throughout that you can’t help but laugh at how on edge you feel once the credits role!
There isn’t a lot to say in terms of standout scenes, well not without ruining the fun for you anyway, but as you watch what does give ‘Host’ its edge is the commitment made by its cast and crew; or more so fact that its cast was its crew. If internet research is to be believed the cast of ‘Host’ not only acted but did the stunts and rigged the special effects for themselves! Apparently, Savage didn’t even visit the sets as they were filming. Whilst a lot of the visual effects are typical chairs moving and kitchen items flying around the film’s finale has some really interesting set pieces which are impressive regardless, but even more so when you consider the limited resources and man-power available to the cast – kudos there.
Overall, there isn’t much more to say, other than I seriously recommend you check it out on Shudder. I really am not that fussed about found footage films in general, as I found the gimmick was pretty much milked to dust, and here, the whole zoom/online meeting thing has also been done in films like ‘Unfriended’, but ‘Host’ makes it feel whole heartedly relevant; not to mention creative given the lockdown! ‘Host’ is tense, makes you jump – constantly – and has a runtime which makes it an easy choice for any movie evening.