I’m writing this half a year after my first post about COVID-19. We’re six months into the pandemic, and what do we have to show for it? A horror movie set during this same pandemic, that’s what. Host is the first movie I’ve seen – maybe it’s the first one, period – that was filmed and set during the COVID-19 pandemic, entirely centered around it.
Host is an impressively effective found-footage horror film. It’s about six friends who want to hold a séance. How can a séance take place during quarantine, you may ask? Over Zoom, of course. It’s a simple yet interesting concept. What happens when you enter into a Zoom séance is that you can see what’s going on with each participant. And what happens when you’re on your laptop at home watching the movie about said Zoom séance is that from your perspective, it looks like you’re involved, too. Your screen looks exactly like it does when you’re taking part in a Zoom gathering.
The movie, a Shudder original, was made entirely during quarantine. It was written, filmed, edited, etc. in a hurry, and on a low budget. It was shot over video chat, with each actor being directed remotely. The actors had to do their own stunts and practical effects. They played characters with their same names, which likely made it seem more real to them. They had a script, but they also had ample opportunity for improvisation as they responded to each other in the Zoom meeting. Apparently, some of the lines were redacted in the actors’ scripts (below their own lines), so they didn’t know what was going to happen next.
It did seem chillingly real. A found-footage film with more practical effects than special effects/CGI amounts to a pretty damn authentic horror movie experience. Being alone in a dark house in front of my computer watching a séance unfold over Zoom made it easy to forget that I was watching a movie, and you know that things went disastrously wrong as the séance got underway. It was an intense 57 minutes. I spent much of it clutching my throat and holding my breath.
My plan was then to take my shower and write this post. Instead, I watched an episode of Shameless in order to crowd Host out of my head so that I could get into the shower, and then a smothering sleepiness overcame me, and all I could do was crawl into bed. Nenette was somehow inspired to alternately run and trot through the house after her ball in erratic bursts of energy, occasionally yowling and slamming into things in the dark. I fell asleep with my nerves frayed.
Host works. I was alone, but I actually saw it “with” my friend Caroline. (It was our first horror movie “date” since 2019!) We got on the phone and counted down to hit “play” at the same time, and then we hung up. We got back on the phone afterward and found each other to be equally spooked.
It was good. It was really, really good, and easily my favorite movie of 2020 so far. If you’re into horror, I highly recommend that you sign up for Shudder’s 7-day free trial just to watch this film, if you’re not already subscribed.
I’ll leave you with the trailer:
Have a great what’s left of your weekend, friends.