HOST – Review

Look, we’re all going stir-crazy during the pandemic (at least if you’re adhering to any sort of safety standard and listening to science). We were bound to get a quarantine film eventually, but my money was on a rom-com or a drama. I’m so very happy it was a horror movie.

HOST is directed by Rob Savage and depicts a group of twenty-somethings holding a seance via Zoom, a video streaming platform that allows people to connect for an hour or so. These people seem like fully formed characters without a need for backstory, which is refreshing after so many films needing to sprinkle expositional character development via dialogue. Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Alan Emrys, Jinny Lofthouse, and Seylan Baxter star as the main callers on the meeting (they all just use these names in the film). It also stars Edward Linard as Teddy, the only actor that doesn’t use his real name. These characters decide it might be fun to try pulling off a seance online so Haley contacted a medium and they get to work. Things go pretty wild from there and spiral into something absolutely wild.

Look, this film is only 56 minutes long and your mileage will vary depending on exactly what you want from a film like this. It’s a brief story, told economically and with minimal effects, so you have to be willing to deal with some wonderful things. They include tight filmmaking done to look entirely like a Zoom call, characters that feel fully fleshed out despite their brief time onscreen, and some effects that are wildly practical but fun to watch. It’s a bit of a perfect object, watchable on a television but weirdly perfect to stream on a laptop or tablet. Most films are designed for the big screen only, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s strangely refreshing to have one that’s so versatile.

You should get on this director, and I mean now. Rob Savage is someone I discovered today, but I’ve already begun delving into his short film work and trying to contact him because he’s rad as hell. That’s it, I don’t know how else to describe him. Don’t believe me? Hit Vimeo and watch his short film DAWN OF THE DEAF. Corny title, but it goes buck-wild quickly and it is absolutely stunning in terms of performance and sound design. 

I know Shudder is a streaming service many haven’t looked into. Yeah, a whole service dedicated to horror doesn’t always appeal to everyone, but this film justifies checking it out. HOST is a mean little film, lovingly designed and more fun than I’ve had with horror in a while. It’s a strange year for film and most of you aren’t going to be in the mood for one centered around online hangouts during the COVID-19 quarantine. Honestly, though, that’s the point. Sometimes we’re not in the mood for something and it happens anyway. Hell, no one was in the mood for the pandemic itself but we’re dealing with it. It’s made people angry, mean, and a bit weirder than they would be otherwise. Like all of us, HOST is full of people in strange situations with stir-crazy quarantine behavior. Maybe we need this right now, and maybe it’s time to embrace quarantine till the pandemic is over by getting weird with it.

And you Google DAWN OF THE DEAF right now. You do it. Keep an eye on Rob Savage.

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