HOST (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘Someone new has joined the meeting’
Host is a 2020 American horror film about six friends who hire a medium to hold a séance over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Unfortunately, they get far more than they bargained for. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, the terrified friends begin to realise they might not survive the night…

Directed by Rob Savage (The Boogeyman; Dashcam) from a screenplay co-written with Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd, the Shudder production stars Haley Bishop (Deep State), Jemma Moore (Doom: Annihilation), Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova (Dawn of the Deaf), Caroline Ward and Patrick Ward. Produced by Douglas Cox, Emily Gotto and Samuel Zimmerman.

Due to social distancing precautions, director Rob Savage never set foot in the same room as his actors at any point during production and instead directed them remotely. The cast, who also operated their own cameras, helped pull off their own practical effects and lit their own scenes.

“It’s hard not to wonder how fast or well Host will age; technology-based horror always dates itself the quickest. The specificity of this film crafted around the lockdown makes it of the zeitgeist in a way few films manage to achieve. Still, for a brisk hour packed with chills, Host succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is to simply scare you in your own home.” Bloody Disgusting

Host would have been worth watching even if it sucked, if all it had going for it was its peculiar place in movie history. Instead, it’s one of the scariest movies of the year, made all the more so for its unassuming framework. I’m usually a stickler for watching movies on an actual TV (or, god willing, a theater screen), but this is one that’s probably improved by watching on your laptop screen.” Boston Hassle

“Running just 56 minutes, Host is certainly thin. But that brevity makes the movie more appealing than many real-life Zoom happy hours, conference calls, and virtual gatherings that drag on well after initial interest wanes. Host keeps it together for an undemanding amount of time certain to satisfy easygoing appetites with a snack serving of scares.” Culture Crypt

“Without a doubt, Host is one of the most uniquely ambitious horror movies to come along this year, and it serves as an excellent reminder of the power of great genre storytelling […] It takes a lot to get under my skin these days, but Sheridan and company did a brilliant job of creeping me out in all the right way.” Daily Dead

Host probably won’t age well–both in terms of the technology and the fact it’s set very specifically in a (hopefully) highly unusual year. But at a time when so many pre-pandemic movies have little in common with what is happening right now, it’s refreshing to see a well-made, effective indie horror that works as both escapist entertainment and as a reflection of a shared experience.” Gamespot

“There’s something awe-inspiring seeing filmmakers creatively navigating a world that’s been put on hold […] So turn out the lights, drag out your laptop/tablet and experience a film that showcases what the found footage subgenre can accomplish. All shocks, no filler, Host is a winner and easily sits next to Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum as one of the best found footage films I’ve seen.” Gayly Dreadful

“Nothing is overdrawn and it keeps each moment moving at a pace that ultimately serves the narrative. When those elements combine, they work far better than I could have anticipated. If the film falters anywhere, it is toward the end. As the action and terror ramps up so, do the special effects and stunt work.” iHorror

Host is short, but it is lean, mean, and genuinely scary. Savage definitely proves his resourcefulness as a filmmaker (one wonders if he studied Jafar Panahi’s films made during his house-arrest) and Shudder demonstrates their nimbleness getting such an of-the-now production so quickly on their platform. Recommended for horror fans and zeitgeist-followers…” J.B. Spins

“Though not as dynamic as Unfriended, another “desktop movie,” Host observes uncannily the supernatural, ephemeral, and material worlds colliding together, gesturing toward an uncertain future. This concise, entertaining spin on the ghost story proposes that maybe the modern world is a haunted house now.” The New York Times

“This lockdown movie certainly comes with topical relevance in the here and now, at a time when we all feel housebound, trapped and prey to forces (both external and internal) beyond our control – but compellingly naturalistic performances (in what will turn out to be unnaturalistic circumstances) and some very well-constructed scares seem likely to secure this film’s future as well.” Projected Figures

“It’s nice to see that the first horror movie to specifically address our present hellish circumstances is as unpretentious and tidy as it is. And Host is one of the most entertaining new horror movies to be released since quarantine began in mid-March […] Host is worth a look if you already have a Shudder subscription, but don’t knock anybody over in your haste to catch it.”

Host was a horror that constantly fluctuated between delighting me and being ever so slightly frustrating. Whenever it seemed it had reached its peak it would dip back down in quality for a time, making a film that is under an hour-long still feel a little stretched out at times […] As it is, it is a good horror film, but one whose impact is lessened by not being wholly original.” The Rotting Zombie

I could go on and on about this film and how it’s the first to make me truly anxious this year, how the film’s short runtime makes it’s audience feel as if they’re in a pressure cooker and allows the demon to really get to work on it’s cast. But I’ve basically hit my word count […]So I’ll end it with this. It’s a ten. Go watch it.” Rue Morgue

“Savage takes advantage of the limitations of found footage horror. The likability of the characters help you suspend disbelief during the portions where they’d clearly have put down the damn computer, and because the film manages to keep your interest, you get to enjoy the spook house effects. A lot of these jump scares are old school fun.” UK Film Review

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Host is currently streaming on Shudder.

Cast and characters:
Haley Bishop … Haley
Jemma Moore … Jemma
Emma Louise Webb … Emma
Radina Drandova … Radina
Caroline Ward … Caroline
Alan Emrys … Alan
Patrick Ward … Caroline’s Dad
Edward Linard … Teddy
Jinny Lofthouse … Jinny
Seylan Baxter … Seylan
Jack Brydon … Legs
James Swanton … The Spirit

Technical details:
56 minutes

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