The hostess with the mostess. (I saw HOST on Shudder.)

Merry Sunday!

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.

 

 

June 2020 Favorites!

My “favorite little things” in June were basic in the best of ways. I’ve got a horror film and a horror documentary series on Shudder, two comedic series on Netflix, and a sci-fi anthology series on Amazon Prime, all original projects on their respective streaming platforms. I also included my current favorite bread (for the food part) and the fragrance I’ve been wearing (for the product part). That’s it. The major favorite of the month is my new job, but I’ve spoken enough about that, and we’re here for the small stuff. Right? Yeah.

Without further ado, then:

 

1). Z (Shudder Original Film)

 

 

This movie actually succeeded at creeping me out a little bit. It pleased me in this regard. If you subscribe to Shudder and you’re in the mood for a basic popcorn horror movie, you might want to try this one.

 

2). Never Have I Ever (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

Our favorite laugh-guarantee comedy series (Black-ish) is on hiatus until 2021. Our second-favorite (Bob’s Burgers) is on hiatus until the end of September. In the middle of this dry season, we landed on Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever. Turns out that it’s a brilliant and highly bingeable comedy series. A grand discovery!

 

3). After Life (S2) (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

We waited long enough to watch the second season of Ricky Gervais’ Netflix series After Life, and it was worth it. It’s hard to be disappointed by a smart dramedy woven through with acerbic wit and irreverence, if you’re into that sort of thing, but still, it was delightful to come back to After Life and find that it’s still brilliant and enjoyable.

 

4). Cursed Films (Shudder Original Series)

 

 

Shudder’s documentary series about horror films that seem to be “cursed” (suggested by mysterious, ominous occurrences during or around production) makes for some fascinating, thought-provoking entertainment. It all comes down to whether or not you believe in coincidences, or, rather, whether you want to believe in them.

 

5). Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon Original Series)

 

 

This sci-fi anthology series features stand-alone episodes based on the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick. I found several of its episodes to be impressive, but one episode in particular actually terrified me: “Safe and Sound.” As far as I’m concerned, this sci-fi story amounts to straight-up horror. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, I recommend that you search for Electric Dreams and take 50 minutes to watch just this one episode, “Safe and Sound,” even if you’re not really into sci-fi or horror.

 

6). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

 

There’s not much to say about this bread except that it’s been my favorite Ezekiel bread of late. I have it every day with peanut butter and jelly for lunch. Incidentally, it’s interesting to realize that the one consistent thing in my professional life – the one thing that never changes – is that my lunch of choice is peanut butter and jelly. It doesn’t matter where I work, or what I’m doing… if I have a job, I have a pb&j for lunch. I don’t even think about it! I just enjoy it, and it’s satisfying.

 

7). Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist

 

I happened by a travel size of Pacifica’s Island Vanilla Perfumed Hair and Body Mist, and it’s since taken the place of my longtime favorite vanilla perfume by The Body Shop. I don’t know. It’s got some sort of floral note going on that I love.

That’s really all I have to say about that.

…and now, it’s July. June went quickly. It’s bewildering that any month in this bloody year of 2020 could go quickly, but June did… on my end, anyway.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

 

Creepshow (2019) PSA and The Coatmaker (Short Horror October post 1!)

Ahem. I have an important Public Service Announcement before I jump into our first Short Horror October post. TAKE NOTE! Creepshow (2019), a Shudder Original Series, has arrived, and I’m sorry that I’m just now telling you about it. You’ll see this anthology horror series listed in my October Favorites post, but what good would it do to find out about it in November? Creepshow is glorious, campy, spooktacular fun that’s perfect for right now, in October, as Halloween approaches.

 

 

Shudder gives us new episodes on Thursdays. With two unique stories within each episode, you’re all set if you have just half an hour at a time to escape into a complete comic book horror story. The animated character who presents the stories is quite a character, by the way, and the stories are told wonderfully as comics come to life. We’re so into this series, we’re impatient for the new episode each week. We’re three episodes in as of today.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Shudder is an online streaming service mainly for horror content, but you’ll also have thrillers, suspense, mystery, etc. at hand. A Shudder subscription is only $5.00/month, and less than that if you get a one-year subscription! (This is not a sponsored post. I just can’t keep Creepshow to myself. You’re welcome.)

Now for Short Horror October post number 1!

 

(Bloody Kisses, haha)

 

I’m thrilled to finally start posting short horror films again! I’ve been watching them all summer (okay, spring and summer) in anticipation of the decision-making challenge. This year, you’ll find many of my picks to be thought-provoking, layered in meaning, and fleshed-out with metaphor and symbolism… the kind of films you’ll want to give a second viewing. Many of them represent the psychological horror sub-genre.

Today’s short horror film, however, is a simple one, and time-wise, it’s on the shorter end of short horror. It’s best to watch this film – all of these short horror films – in the dark! Dark is more visible in the dark. Don’t ponder that. Just enjoy The Coatmaker:

 

 

Happy Friday Eve!