The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just changed how we watch movies right now, but how we make movies. “Host,” a film focused on paranormal Zoom meeting, is a prime example.
For their regular virtual get-together, the main character Haley (Haley Bishop) brings together her group of friends for an online seance. Haley, who’s hired the medium for the call, is taking the Zoom meeting seriously, but the rest of her friends see it as just harmless fun.
The call does start off innocently enough, with the friends getting settled. However, at one point, something goes wrong and an evil spirit is invited in. As a result, all of the friends are put in danger.
“Host,” released by the streaming platform Shudder, was selected by the Large Association of Movie Blogs’ Movie of the Month. As the LAMBs’ selection, and because it fits with this Halloween season, I decided to check it out.
I see “Host” as a movie that I respect more than I necessarily like. Director Rob Savage, writers Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd, as well as the technical team, did some good work in several areas.
Coming up with an idea based on the times we’re living in and moving to make a film swiftly with fairly good execution is commendable. Additionally, the filmmakers, working on a smaller budget, have some impressive moments in creating paranormal sequences. One can appreciate the effects and techniques pulled off here by the crew.
With all of that said, as a whole, “Host” wasn’t effective enough as a horror flick. While credit can go to low budget filmmaking efforts, what’s shown on screen isn’t all that original or frightening.
One issue is the format itself. The film isn’t unique in using the computer camera point of view, and to this date, only the thriller “Searching” really pulled the style off well. Notably, another movie using this format was “Unfriended,” and like this picture, it used a haunting as its source for scares.
As a result, watching “Host” feels kind of like a retread of previous films. The same is true with the scares, as the movie uses some techniques that are reminiscent of the “Paranormal Activity” flicks.
The film is also lacking to an extent in depth for both the characters and dialogue. The performances are fine for a small horror picture, but there’s not much to these characters, as they just become ghost fodder as time goes on.
For fans of the genre, especially those interested in haunting and paranormal movies, “Host” will do the trick. It’s a consumable 57 minutes and for the month of Halloween, it’s worth checking out for those who want a new release.
However, it doesn’t push the boundaries that far with the genre and doesn’t provide a rich enough experience. 2.75 out of 5.