09th Apr2020

‘The Host’ VOD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Maryam Hassouni, Mike Beckingham, Dougie Poynter, Derek Jacobi, Nigel Barber, Togo Igawa, Margo Stilley, Daniël Boissevain, Tom Wu, Jeroen Krabbé, Fabian Jansen, Reinout Bussemaker, Dominic Keating | Written by Finola Geraghty, Brendan Bishop | Directed by Andy Newbery


Robert Atkinson (Beckingham) is a young London banker and today the opportunity to show the lady in his life how great things could be with him has arrived. When locking up the bank for the weekend he takes a whole bunch of cash that he intends to make into a whole bunch more cash by gambling it all. Unsurprisingly and because you know, movies, He loses all the cash but is about to gain a new “friend” in Mr Lau (Togo Igawa). Robert’s new “friend” offers to clear all of his debts and then some if he just takes one briefcase to Amsterdam and brings another back. Next thing we know there is a lot of twists and turns going, on as Amsterdam is about to reveal some deep dark secrets about itself and Robert is pulled into some dark messed up stuff. Stuff including Vera Tribble (Maryam Hassouni) ,a very gentle caring soul that happily opens up her doors to Robert in his time of need, but does she have other motives?.

Where to begin with The Host? First thing I have to bring up is the cinematography. Yes, I will rave about the performances in a moment but I thought Oona Menges did a great job when shooting in London and Amsterdam making both cities look slick; and overall there was a particular feeling to this movie which worked in all settings (even the darker moments). The mix of a really nice score and cinematography breathed a lot of life into the tension we have to endure here.

The line-up in this flick is a mixture of up and comers and actors that will have you IMDB’ing because you know you know them from that film you saw. I want to start with our two leading men Mike Beckingham and Dougie Poynter (yes McFly’s Dougie Poynter). I know this will come across as a little biased because we’ve had Mike on our podcast, however this is yet another string to the Beckingham bow. By that I mean once again he is going in another direction from the last time I saw him on screen showing yet more range and putting in a performance that demands your attention. I keep saying this, and I truly beleive it, but this young man is going places with his old school leading man charm and on-screen presence – that you rarely get these days! Dougie Poynter for me was a wild card, having only really known him from the band McFly and that Lindsey Lohan flick they all cameo’d in. You can all breathe a sigh of relief however because he is solid; he doesn’t have a great deal to do but gives this reviewer a sense of excitement to see what he does next. There is a history of band members that broke out of the mould to make it as actors, so show us what you got Mr Poynter I will be keeping an eye out. Extra house points for Derek Jacobi putting in a couple of scenes, I don’t know if these were added later in the day but hey If Jacobi is available put him in your movie, always good to see him.

Maryam Hassouni is brilliant… She gives off a real Annie Wilkes vibe, I never knew what this character was thinking and just when you think you have a good read on her, well you were bloody wrong! I can’t really talk much on the character because SPOILERS but her performance is really understated and subtle to begin with and it pulls you right into this world, to the point where, when you get one of the many reveals in the movie, she nails it. Nigel Barber appears in The Host too and, if you’re like me, this is one of those actors I guarantee you know from tons of stuff. Barber ties a lot of threads together but the character seems to be pretty erratic at times.

This brings me to a negative because honestly I felt Barber and his character fell slight victims to this. The pacing of this movie brings up issues in the latter third. We spend a good chunk of the movie in slow burn mode which is absolutely fine because its lends itself to plot and time to live with our characters, building tension upon tension which is ideal in a good thriller (and this is a good thriller), We get the turn and suddenly the flick pumps its brakes for a minute, only to ramp back up again for the run in to the end. Its a nit-pick but it usually means the loose ends are tied up thick and fast because we don’t want our run time going to long, I would possibly have been okay with another 10 minutes just to tighten things up a touch. That may just be me though – make your own mind up and let me know in the comments!

The Host is a huge recommendation from me. The film builds and builds and builds, playing on your mind like some of the best thrillers of our time, paying its dues to movies like The Shining, Psycho, Misery et al; having that old-school classic thriller feel but with a decidedly fresh modern take. A great looking flick with solid performances that I feel will find the audience it deserves.

**** 4/5

The Host will be available through all on-demand platforms from 17th April. Pre-order now on iTunes.


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