Host (2020)

Director: Rob Savage
Starring: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Teddy Linard, Seylan Baxter. UK. 58m

There’s been a long hate trail behind the found footage genre and each new title had to content with being compared with The Blair Witch (1999) and while I defend the experimental movies there are a few which are really hard to defend *cough* Moth *cough* but what i absolutely love about this short exhilarating horror is just how it gets about it’s job and doesn’t care what you think.

The breakthrough comes from director Rob Savage who has managed to come up with something short and sweet, filmed over 12 weeks during the height of the Covid 19 lockdown, a group of friends embark on an internet séance with catastrophic results.

Keeping it simple the movie starts with, what is now a popular scene, an online group chat, a lot of people are now more familiar with Zoom and Skype than ever before so while this might be new to some it’s very ingrained. But Rob Savage doesn’t mess around with having to explain what’s happening which is tremendous that he doesn’t insult his audience with going over the basics of this occult set up and ploughs into the action and I can’t praise this approach enough.

After the introductions, the stereotypical crystal bashing medium comes online and guides the girls through opening a circle and what they need to do to break it and they begin calling out to the unknown, and pretty quickly something begins calling back. What turns out to be a cruel joke really opens a can of worms but everyone involved in the now cursed video call is live bait!

Savage really had to be creative with his approach to to this project as social distancing was no doubt on everyone’s mind but with having the cast all acting in different place there are some advantages, some of the death and horror scenes were arranged and played back to the cast live so the reactions are real, genuine shock is always more effective. But the effects, while limited, are really effective if not for the expert timing and cast reactions. Chairs fling people around and even becoming rather threatening device in the final act, something similar to Stephen Spielberg cult classic Poltergeist (1981) when it’s quite funny to watch them skit across a floor, besides the furniture doing a dance, doors creak open and and orbs float around but as seen in the Shudder adverts there is that particularly creepy scene when the invisible spirit is wearing a mask thanks to a camera filter, and this isn’t the only example of how modern tech is used to keep the creep level high in this short horror.

There’s a huge effort to start small and build up to more dangerous and gross effects, fires, broken necks and drownings are all on the card but at times the girls, all young and pretty in their own ways do seem to miss a trick or two, like maybe calling a priest?, at one point there’s a fair amount of damage already done and the medium had been cut off but no one has thought to contact her or to take a number, it’s a tiny bit frustrating but in the heat of the moment I was sucked in and didn’t think of it either and hindsight is a bitch.

Host is a pretty harrowing experience, especially if, like me and others you were watching it on a screen similar to the cast, either a mobile or laptop, because that’s what us young people do these days, and there’s so much in Host we can identify with, wanting to reach out to our friends and do something together during lock down, having a selfie stick hidden somewhere in a drawer along with other fads from last year and accidentally invoking evil spirits on the internet.

Without a huge affair dealing with dark histories, esoteric rites and complicated plots there isn’t much to really dwell on after the movie, it’s a 100% “it is what it is” affair and I really adore the end credits.

I feel that with the direct approach to storytelling and short running time is the aim is to give people something they can jump in and get a kick out while not having too much to moan about, i mean it doesn’t even take up a whole hour, but like a few recent found footage movies such as Death of Vlogger I feel the genre is really getting pushed into something more new and dynamic and it’s pretty special that it’s happening in the UK, a delightful reflection of British ingenuity and host of talented young artists.

TLDR :

Rating: 7/10

Related: Death of a Vlogger (2020), Unfriended (2014), E-Demon (2018),
Lists: A-Z of Found Footage Movies, Seance Cinema
Article: AOFA Short Introduction and History to Found Footage
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