Director: Rob Savage
Writers: Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage and Jed Shepherd
Solid: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward
Editor: Brenna Rangott
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Given the latest uptick in movies that play out fully throughout screens, it was solely a matter of time earlier than the worldwide quarantine — and ensuing reliance on video-conferencing apps — had filmmakers reaching for his or her display screen report button as soon as once more. Nevertheless, not like the modern thrillers Searching (2018) and C U Soon (2020), wherein crime-solving plots grew to become a showcase for the boundless wonders of expertise, Host is a pointy have a look at its limitations. Even its title, flitting between verb and noun, is a intelligent play on phrases — six pals collect to host an internet seance, solely to turn out to be hosts to a demonic possessor. Is expertise the satan? Anybody who’s spent the previous yr attending Zoom conferences on a low-bandwidth web connection could be hard-pressed to disagree.
Throughout a brisk 56 minutes, Host combines three well-worn subgenres into one movie — found-footage, pandemic and possession — right into a concoction that’s surprisingly contemporary. Whereas the paranormal actions make for moments of real scariness, the movie additionally takes a second to acknowledge present anxieties. A momentary cough assumes the importance of a loaded gun, pure for a post-Covid world. Jokes about dad and mom who gained’t keep indoors betray underlying worries about their mortality. Director Rob Savage avoids the fatigue of Covid baggage by dealing with these conversations with a lightweight contact and framing them as banter between pals. This can be a movie that’s content material to easily observe the affect of life in lockdown, reasonably than make a grand assertion about it.
The supernatural horrors start when Haley (Haley Bishop) and her pals inadvertently summon a demon throughout a Zoom seance (who amongst us hasn’t?). It’s a typical sufficient trope made watchable by the group’s compelling performances as fear-stricken younger adults. The movie’s early parts flit repeatedly between their Zoom home windows, an efficient time lapse of their development from bemusement to slow-dawning realization to terror. With no background rating, each creak, thud and scrape is amplified and Savage deploys them to nice impact.
Know-how is extra foe than buddy in Host. The web cuts out at an important second, an innocuous Zoom background pulls a merciless bait-and-switch and a face filter is the idea of a heart-stopping jumpscare. A cheeky Zoom pop-up that asks, ‘Working out of time?’ seems solely to mock the terrorized group. Regardless of being related over video name, every buddy is painfully alone in their very own residence, combating an unseen power that’s in all places directly. It’s no accident that the one gadget that helps them get a clearer image of the evil presence is an analog polaroid digicam. Is Savage commenting on how even fashionable expertise can’t stave off crippling worries? He couldn’t have picked a greater time to do it.