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Blu-ray Review

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Starring: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb and Radina Drandova
Distributor: Second Sight Films


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 22 February 2021

A group of young adult women friends and a male friend meet-up in lockdown for an online Zoom meeting séance. The medium gives them instructions, including the important advice that the spirits should be treated with respect at all times. When nothing happens, one of the women makes-up a story about a boy at her school who hung himself, to string the others along. However, the action allows a malevolent spirit through which initially mimics the events of the story, before entering each of the participants’ homes. Terrified, they witness each other’s horrors at the hands of a demon. It might be dangerous to break the Zoom connection. Who, if anyone, will leave the meeting unscathed...

Host can be described as a ‘found footage’ movie, but one with a difference. During lockdown director Rob Savage posted a clip of film about what happened when he ventured up into his loft to clear it out. The shock ending made it go viral, with around 6 million hits. People began talking about the possibility of the first lockdown horror movie. But when nothing had emerged after a couple of months, Savage decided to make one himself. It helped that the actors were all friends, because they seemed to act more naturally. It’s an experience which you’ll initially feel blasé about for the first few minutes, until you are suddenly dragged-in, in the same abrupt manner one of the characters is dragged across the floor. As the film progresses you find your eyes studiously examining the backgrounds of the friends’ screens, forever on the lookout for movement. That’s one of the reasons why this works so well: it knows when to be subtle and when to hit hard.

Many short-sighted people will believe this to be a low-key project with very little involvement. However, whilst maintaining distancing, you have to consider the stunt work which had to be set-up and tested in the relevant houses. Make-up and prosthetics experts had to instruct the victims of the scenes in question how to apply it themselves in a convincing manor. All in all, this experiment of sorts proves to be a great success. You’re both disappointed at the relatively short running time, and simultaneously impressed by the conciseness and tight editing. It’s a moot point, however, as Host has been received critically as a sensation, pretty much across the board. If nothing else, you can’t deny that Host does something which hasn’t been done before in horror – and these days that’s practically unheard of.

The short running time of the film (57 mins) is balanced by the wealth of extra features which are available on this disc. There is a New Exclusive Commentary by Director Rob Savage and Producer Douglas Cox; a New Exclusive Cast Commentary; a New Exclusive Cast Interview; a very interesting Behind-the-Scenes Feature; ‘Is There Goblins Now?’ – the Original Prank Video; ‘Kate Scare’Prank Video Test Run; The Host Team Séance (a real online séance from which they obtained some ideas for the film); British Film Institute Q & A with Rob Savage and the main cast; and Evolution of Horror Interview with Rob Savage (director & writer), Gemma Hurley (co-writer), and Jed Shepherd (co-writer). The highlight of the extras is the two short films by the director. Dawn of the Deaf is a zombie short wherein the only living survivors are the deaf. This is highly entertaining and very well-realised, with set-pieces around recognisable London landmarks. Salt is what you might term a short-short about a demon loose in a house where a mother attempts to protect her sick daughter. This one jumps straight into what would be the climatic scene in a full-length movie. Great stuff.


Ty Power

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