Host (2020)

A group of six friends have begun the tradition of weekly Zoom calls in order to stay in touch during the pandemic, and this week Haley has decided to bring in medium Seylan to host a séance with them. Predictably things take a dark turn when a bored Jemma, one of the friends, claims to sense Jack (a former friend who killed himself) in the apartment with her. Seylan drops out of the call unexpectedly, leading Jemma to confess her untrue tale. An angry Haley reprimands her for not taking it seriously, warning that they were told not to mess around because now a false spirit may have entered, causing the girls to collectively ‘close the circle’. Just when they think they’re safe, it really starts to hit the fan.

At just 57 minutes this UK production attempted to shoot a horror film within the constraints of a Zoom meeting, which means in order for it to succeed it has to pack a punch at the right pace. This is one of those films that you will probably watch once, then suggest at every movie night in the future for friends who haven’t seen it yet. The story has a nice flow, and doesn’t require a lot of background which is perfect in this situation since the runtime is so short. While most of the scares are jump-scares, most of them are pretty authentic and a few come out of left-field. The actors start off a little shaky but find their ground somewhere in the middle, giving convincing performances that feed off of one another well. The ending is rather predictable, but part of that is due to the type of story they went with so it doesn’t feel disconnected from the rest of the film. Overall it’s a really enjoyable way to spend an hour, with a few moments that will genuinely catch you off guard.

Throughout the film are some major nods toward current events, so it feels relatable and relevant but not in an annoying way. This is definitely a format I hope is explored more in the future, films directed with the intention of being watched on a home screen or computer. Most movie goers, especially nowadays, are streaming at home and often through a laptop. Why not direct a film meant for that environment, rather than one that loses visual value and impact when watching on a smaller screen? It’s something that all of us have done at one time or another, and it potentially paves the way for an entirely new market of films. Even if it doesn’t become the next hot trend in cinema, Rob Savage’s Host is absolutely worth the watch.

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