Host (2020) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Host (2020) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on August 15th, 2020 | Movie Review | Haunted, Supernatural, Isolation, Found Footage

During lockdown in the era of COVID-19, a group of friends put together a video conference seance, where an evil and deadly force is unleashed. 

Host was directed by Rob Savage and stars Haley BishopJemma Moore (from Doom: Annihilation), Emma Louise WebbRadina Drandova and Alan Emrys.

Someone new has joined the meeting

We’re all well aware that the worldwide pandemic and subsequent lockdown mark a momentous era, and it’s only fitting that films from this year reflect our collective state of isolation and panic. Host, a Shudder original, attempted to capture a paranormal version of our newfound fears.

A group of friends join a video call while quarantined to hold a virtual seance in an attempt to connect to the spirit world. Mischievous Jemma complains of a great weight on her neck, and proceeds to tell a story about a boy she went to school with who died. She convinces her friends that he is coming through to her, but after the medium guiding them through the seance drops the call, Jemma reveals that she lied as a prank to spice things up. Her frivolous attitude toward the seance allows a malevolent spirit to come through, making its way through each of the friends’ homes - much like your friend who just can’t bring themselves to wear a mask spreads invisible disease.

For a film that clocks in under an hour, it took too long getting to the action without setting up much background or character development. About halfway through, the tension finally ramps up. There were a couple of unpredictable moments, but the film relies almost exclusively on jump scares. Is the concept of being unable to save your friend from certain death because you’re not allowed near them scary? That a friend can bring death upon you simply from their own stupidity? Yes - but it sure would have helped to have some semblance of an idea where this entity came from and what its motivations were, or if it was even the same spirit that was somehow moving through technology from one house to the next.

Aside from great camerawork that the actors did themselves, the acting is the shining star of this film. The characters have a real rapport with each other, and I felt like I was part of a real Zoom chat amongst friends. The lone male character, who had the least amount of screen time of the bunch, was the only character awarded a storyline. The frightened reactions and realistic kill scenes from each of the friends always looked genuine, but there was nothing here I haven’t seen before, and good acting can only help so much.

This is bound to be the found footage style of our times; it’s inevitable that this will lead the way to a number of horror films of the same ilk. The hype train has been following Host, I suppose because it’s the first to do it - but its attempt to become this generation’s Paranormal Activity was unsuccessful.

Worth Watching?

Not really, unless you’re interested in this new subgenre of isolation-inspired found footage. Maybe I have Zoom fatigue, but I didn’t find the video conference format all that astounding - especially since it had previously been done in Unfriended. I’m thankful for creativity safely finding its way to us in quarantine, and there were certainly moments of tension, but I was left wanting much more. It would surprise me if anyone other than the occasional horror viewer found any real scares here.

Host Review (2020) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it


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