Shudder’s ‘Host’ (2020) – Movie Review

Can we all talk for a moment about just how great Rob Savage’s Host on Shudder is? It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a film that’s given me the chills like this one has. I’ve seen a lot of people describe what they think this movie is in many different forms. I like to think of it as Paranormal Activity meets Unfriended. Both chilling in their own way, but if you combine the two and squeeze it all into an hour long segment, it seems you come out with something magical.

The idea for this film quite literally came to mind twelve short weeks ago during lockdown due to COVID-19. The director and his friends decided to get together and create one of the most harrowing films of 2020. Playing on the idea that COVID-19 exists in this film’s universe, it’s all shot on Zoom. Most of us are familiar with the meeting application, and more than most of us are now tired of looking at it.

Six friends decide to get together for a social distance visit. Haley (Haley Bishop) opens the meeting, and they go forward in trying a seance to communicate with the dead. They’re greeted by Seylan (Seylan Baxter), a psychic medium who explains the rules and reminds them to keep them close to the heart. Bearing in mind that, since they are apart, the bond isn’t quite as strong as it would be if they were together.

The writing and direction in this gem is top notch. The acting is spot on, and it’s clear that this was a labor of love. Each actor plays their parts exceptionally well, and Director Rob Savage knew exactly how to let them be comfortable during this process. I caught a couple of brief glimpses of interviews on Twitter, and Actress Jemma Moore explained that just before shooting, she came in with no makeup and just let her hair down, still damp. So it’s clear they wanted this to all seem and feel as natural as possible. I applaud filmmakers who take such a simplistic idea and turn it into something truly terrifying.

I’ve watched Host several times now, and each time just gets better. There are things you won’t notice during the first watch that are almost eye-popping the second time around. I was able to interact with the entire cast and crew for a little while yesterday on Twitter, and I can’t imagine the joy they feel that this film has made such an impact on the horror community.

Auditory cues in this movie play such a large part in it. I suggest going into this film the way it was intended. In the dark, on a laptop, with your headphones on. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say too much about the story without spoiling the events that unfold in the span of an hour. But, if you’ve got a Shudder subscription, an hour to kill, and are looking for some incredible suspense, tension, and some great scares—then you cannot go wrong with Shudder’s Host. I believe this film is one that the horror community will talk about for years to come. I promise that if you love this film the way I do, you’ll want to see it again and again.

Host isn’t the first film to take an approach like this, but I can’t think of anything else that’s taken me by surprise quite like this. Hope you all enjoy!

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