220px-Host_(film)

Halloween Watchlist: Host (2020)

Synopsis: During lockdown, a group of friends do a Zoom seance, but quickly discover that there’s an uninvited ‘friend’ on their call.

Director: Rob Savage

Starring: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward

Review: I’d read this was supposed to be one of the scariest horror movies currently out and knew I had to give it a go. The premise was one we’ve seen countless times before – a group of friends conduct a seance and ‘invite’ a demon or evil spirit who then causes chaos. However, in this instance, the seance is conducted via Zoom.

Filmed on Zoom during lockdown, I was impressed with the quality and production and the premise actually worked well. I enjoyed it more than many of the ‘found footage’ movies I’ve watched recently. The nature of the Zoom call made it feel intimate and the viewer was part of the call. I also enjoyed the jokes about lockdown – creating backgrounds for Zoom calls, boredom baking, feelings of isolation, relationship issues of suddenly living with people you may not know well or moving in with inlaws. It felt very relatable and more than once I had a rueful smile as memories of lockdown came back.

Obviously, I didn’t take part in an online seance but this section was very well done. I won’t spoil anything but safe to say, the seance doesn’t quite go to plan and the friends have an evil spirit join them. The tension builds with subtle things like candle flames flickering or going out before it ramps up. I found myself constantly scanning the backgrounds, expecting to see a spirit jump out and it was pleasantly surprising that the director didn’t go for the quick scare.

The movie is well-paced. There’s the initial introduction of all of the characters which doesn’t feel rushed and we’re given tidbits of the characters relationships with each other from the little bits of gossip. It feels very natural. When Haley introduces her friend who will lead the seance, the action picks up and friendships are tested.

One thing I felt weakened the production a little was the reveal of the evil spirit. Not seeing it had raised the tension for me, but when they started to show its face, I felt it was a case of waiting for the next ‘jump scare’ and the movie somewhat fell into well-played tropes. However, as this was only the last few minutes, I didn’t really ruin the movie and I did enjoy waiting for the next jump.

Host isn’t a long movie at 57minutes but packs loads in. It’s definitely well worth a watch and does deliver something new to the horror genre. Add it to your watchlist and join the Zoom call.

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