Six friends hire a medium to hold a seance via Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.
Cast: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Alan Emrys, Patrick Ward, Edward Linard, Jinny Lofthouse, Seylan Baxter, Jack Brydon, James Swanton
Directors: Rob Savage
Writers: Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd
If you’re spooked by the likes of Unfriended, Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch — Host uses similar film-making methods and is a must-watch exclusive to streaming service Shudder, which just launched in Australia.
Using a similar ‘webcam shooting-style’ to movies like Unfriended or Searching, Host is shot entirely from the perspective of several laptop or phone cameras. The connection between them all is a Zoom call.
Hayley (Hayley Bishop) is stuck in quarantine — yes, this is our first COVID-19 adjacent horror film — and she’s decided to do an online seance. Bad idea in most horror films. Unsurprisingly, still a bad idea on a Zoom call.
The movie begins as Hayley sets-up the chat room and is soon joined by her friends Jemma (Jemma Moore) who lives across the street as well as Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Radina (Radina Drandova) and Caroline (Caroline Ward). The five friends are then lead through a seance by Seylan (Seylan Baxter), who Hayley knows and has performed a seance with before — back when they could be in the same room.
Host is a horror film about characters sick of being stuck in their homes, being performed by actors who are also, presumably, sick of being stuck in their homes. The best thing the film does is play right into its setting and at only fifty-seven minutes, yes, the film does include Zoom’s time-limit of forty minutes for three or more people as part of the film. Will the jokes and dialogue work a couple of years from now when we’ve all forgotten what Zoom is and can leave the house? Who knows, and I don’t care. It’s a film for the present and director Rob Savage knows what he’s doing.
With under an hour on the clock, the film moves fast, but never deceptively so. Even if you go in knowing it’s a shorter film, none of the character dialogue feels rushed. Given the assumption, they’ve been catching up somewhat regularly and presumably chat through some sort of instant messenger there’s no time spent getting to know our characters and any forced “what you been up to?” dialogue would have felt hammed in. There’s a nice mix of personalities between the girls so even if you don’t like all of them, you should be rooting for at least one of them to survive the night.
The acting from everyone involved is very good and they sell the jump scares and tension building moments well. These are weird conditions to be acting under. I applaud everyone involved.