Released: 31st July
Seen: 7th August
2020 has been a terrible year, this one is the year we can leave out of the history books for a whole host of reasons. In terms of the real world, we now get to see what it’s like to live through a plague that spreads so quickly and easily that the only way to prevent it is for everyone to stay home. For the movies, which this blog relies on heavily for sweet delicious content, it’s meant that everything interesting has moved to next year but it also means that we now live in a world where some things won’t ring true anymore.
If someone makes a movie about a plague in the future, we now expect to see the toilet paper aisle completely empty and we can expect Zombie movies to involved some blonde lady to walk up to a Zombie and claim that they’re faking it right before she gets bitten (not saying she’ll be named Karen but… she totally will be). Industry wise it also raised the question of who would be the first to make a movie that directly references and is influenced by the dreaded coronavirus. Leave it to the horror genre to take one of the most terrifying things in modern times and go “Yeah, I can make this scarier”
Host is a found footage horror movie focussed on a group of friends holding an online seance, since they’ve run out of things to do during quarantine. Unfortunately for them, something goes wrong and instead of contacting their deceased loved ones they’ve accidentally brought over a demon. As tends to happen when you accidentally bring a demon into the real world, one by one they start experiencing some unnerving events that soon turn violent, all the while the free trial of Zoom that they’re using starts slowly ticking away.
Now, on a personal level, I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of found footage movies because I often ask one question… “Why the hell haven’t you put the camera down?”. It’s a personal pet peeve but there are so many films in this genre where I just wonder why anyone would keep filming.
Host solves this problem for me by making the entire film take place on a Zoom call meaning that these characters keep filming because it’s the only way they can keep in contact with their friends, plus with the entire film only taking an hour it’s easy to understand how they’d be swept up in it. Now that this film pushed aside my big concern, it then settled in on shredding my nerves to within an inch of their lives.
The tension building in Host is genuinely brilliant, you could almost set your watch to how the film is going to slowly tighten the tension of the film and make everything get more and more unnerving until the final act when everything goes off the rails and things hit critical mass. It’s a gloriously paced film that manages to pull you in gradually so when that ending hits, it slaps you right across the face as hard as it can.
Combine with the tension the fact that Host has quickly picked up on how the new world works now in order to plant some genuinely effective scares. We’ve all seen a Zoom background now, this film knows that we’ve seen them and so it works out a way to use that to create some great scares. It plays a little with time but one of the biggest scares of the film literally has a countdown clock attached to it, and it still works.
Part of this being so effective could be because I watched it on a laptop so I was fully immersed with how the film is presented and honestly, that’s how I’d say it’s best watched. Putting it on a TV screen will probably still have a great effect, cos Host is that well put together, but throw in the little bit of extra submersion by putting it on a laptop and it makes it 10 times scarier.
You always worry about the first time a major event is reflected on film, the first one to do it is the one to set the bar and show if it can be used effectively. Host set the bar for a coronavirus horror movie ridiculously high and while I feel like we might be in line for someone to top it given enough time, for the first one to try it this is pretty amazing.