You know it’s gonna be good when the title has a double-entendre related to hosting a webchat and the house hosting of a spiritual entity…
I’ve just watched Host and boy oh boy, we’re in for a terrifying treat.
I’m a horror enthusiast. Let me make that clear. Therefore, said enthusiasm will be strong and heavily protective of the perception of horror films, especially towards the latest hit, Host. I’ve had Shudder for a while, before its inevitable rise to the mainstream horror babies. Personally, I’m so happy that Host was premiered on Shudder, through Shudder involvement, participation and representation. It births this film for what it is, a horror film, instead of being labelled as a thriller in an attempt to lure in unsuspecting spook-swatters on Netflix’s (respectfully) ever-growing archive.
Host heavily reminded me of Unfriended: The Dark Web, simply because of the setup and the threat of an unknown presence, but this film takes a totally unique spin on the idea of virtual connection and helplessness.
All you can do is watch.
Lockdown has produced all sorts of trauma that will legitimately take a while to unpack, but I was waiting for something creative to emerge from the situation (other than my own various projects – stay tuned) but they’ve done it, and they’ve done it extremely well!
From the authentic delivery and initial banality of each scene to the VFX, the actors were fabulous. From fabricated connections to faulty connections, each actor sustained my belief and supported each other with ease.
One moment which I was genuinely impressed by was the toilet break. Yes, you heard that right. Have you ever noticed that films never show toilet breaks? And I’m not talking about steamy bathroom scenes or the hint of using the bathroom. I mean, a (close-enough) lengthy shot of the characters going to the bathroom and the silence that commences as you wait on the line. Even though it falls into the familiarity of Zoom etiquette, it actually sustained my attention even more than deflated it because the probability of dramatic irony felt sky-high.
The male character was a refreshing dynamic on the friendship front. It was a lovely angle to see, compared to when a girlfriend has a new boyfriend, or where a group of guys are discussing their other guy friend’s new female partner.
What really strikes me about this film is the concept of innocence. The characters who experience what they do at the naive but undeniably irresponsible hands of the protagonists still encounter the full wrath of the supposed entity, merely by association.
Host arrests your attention by lulling you into the familiar traits of a webchat, in particular a Zoom call. Zoom’s popularity exploded since the pandemic due to its free 40-min feature, background green screen-esque abilities and screen-focus feature when someone is talking, or rather, when it picks up your microphone. The stuttering connection, with moments of clarity before dipping out again, along with the 2.8 second lag between conversations leave you scanning the four corners of your screen so fast and frequently, your eyeballs almost stick.
For those of you who are deathly afraid of horror movies, there’s a way to watch them without denting your ceiling (like the way a cat jumps when it sees a cucumber).
Host: Clever and desperately appropriate. The takeaway? Don’t do a seance, even on Zoom. It still counts, terrifyingly.
Watch it now on Shudder!
My Glow Girl Guru e-book is fast approaching! Stay tuned, folks…