21st Aug2020

‘Host’ Review (Shudder)

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb | Written by Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd | Directed by Rob Savage

Well, well, well… I guess we knew it was only a matter of time before we started to get a plethora of lockdown movies coming out the woodwork and it would seem that horror based streaming platform Shudder are going to be the first to dip their toe into, what I assume, to soon be very crowded waters… I can’t say these are times I have been looking forward to knowing how fairly uncreative things can get when we are essentially just following a trend but like any reviewer or just all round movie lover It is my duty to at least watch the movies and give them a fair shot.

So buckle up and lets get into Host. A Blair Witch for the 2020s you could say… We wont, but you could.

Six friends get together during lockdown for their weekly zoom call. It’s Haley’s turn to organize an activity and instead of a quiz, she’s arranged for a medium to conduct a séance. Bored and feeling mischievous, Jemma decides to have some fun and invents a story about a boy in her school who hanged himself. However, her prank gives license for a demonic presence to cross over, taking on the guise of the boy in Jemma’s made-up story. The friends begin noticing strange occurrences in their homes as the evil presence begins to make itself known, and they soon realize that they might not survive the night.

Okay, so not exactly the freshest concept on the horror market, we have seen this type of story done before. However I don’t think I have EVER seen this concept done this well. The acting from all involved is top quality. A huge shout out goes to Haley Bishop and Jemma Moore but all the ladies are great and draw you in from the moment the movie starts; I was unaware of most of this cast but every one of them impressed the crap out of me. The writing in Host is very strong too… I am well aware that a movie like this will often have pages of no dialogue which is where tension setting comes in and I didn’t think a beat was missed. Rob Savage has done an excellent job of directing these women to get the best out of them, especially when your tied to a Zoom call narrative. I don’t know if this entire flick was filmed over Zoom and honestly I don’t care to know because it was done extremely well.

What I will say is thank christ for John Cho’s 2018 movie Searching because it made this flick less of a hard sell for me due to the super-creative way Cho’s film was put together. However this is essentially a horror so one thing we absolutely need is jump scares. Now I am by no means a jump scare kind of movie-goer but holy shit did Host give me the willies! I was hugely hugely impressed by the different ways this flick played with every one of my expectations and delightfully danced around me with maniacal glee as I was quietly shitting my kecks on the edge of my seat!

There were so many ways Host got me. Firstly I was loving that a 50-minute movie still took its time to introduce the characters – enough for me to give a shit before the shenanigans began. Honestly, I have watched 3-hr movies that failed to do this, so bravo to co-writers Gemma Hurley and Rob Savage. The slow burn tension was absolutely flawless too and never once did I feel like they were searching for cheap jumps. The whole Zoom aspect plays really well including setting up a story beat early on with a Zoom function that actually pays off 1 million per cent in the biggest way. Then there is the practical stuff, the actions of the entity and the attacks, everything was just done so bloody well.

You have got to check out Host, it is truly like nothing else you have seen lately and scores big time for me. Let’s be be honest, you know you have a spare 50 minutes to watch this one and its possibly the best thing horror wise out there right now. Superb. But… lets not go overboard with the lockdown horrors please, I will let you have this one, you done good Shudder… Just don’t push it filmmakers!!

Host is available to watch on Shudder now.

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