Host is a unique found-footage supernatural horror film that’s a reflection of our times. Not only was this independent film released on a relatively new VOD streaming service Shudder, which specialises in horror, thriller and supernatural titles, but it’s relatively short — with a runtime of less than an hour.

Directed by newcomer Rob Savage, and written by him, Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd, the film was created during the Covid-19 lockdown and even features a story set during the current pandemic. Here, a group of friends such as Haley (Haley Bishop), Jemma (Jemma Moore), Teddy (Edward Linard), Caroline (Caroline Ward), Radina (Radina Drandova), and others, meet each other online every week on the popular video-conferencing platform Zoom to stay in touch.

One week, Haley decides to hire Seylan (Seylan Baxter) to spice things up. Seylan specialises in the practice of mediumship, where she can help the living communicate with the dead. The group almost immediately sees results during the séance. Jemma makes contact with her friend Jack, who had committed suicide. However, when Seylan leaves the Zoom chat, Jemma tells the group that she was making it up.

A shortish supernaturual feature set within Covid-19 times has excellent performances from an amateur cast and channels true dread

Initially, the friends don’t take things too seriously. But when actual supernatural events take place, they are left frightened. When Haley tells Seylan on the phone about the creepy experiences and Jemma’s prank, Seylan tells her that Jemma’s lies may have somehow opened the gateway for a demonic spirit. She tells Haley that they must close the séance immediately.

Of course, the demonic spirit wants the séance to continue and interrupts the call with more supernatural events. Here, the friends try to find a way out as the demonic spirit picks them off one by one.

Of course, the demonic spirit wants the séance to continue and interrupts the call with more supernatural events. Here, the friends try to find a way out as the demonic spirit picks them off one by one.

As far as stories in the genre go, this one is standard fare. However, the Covid-19 lockdown twist gives it authenticity. I especially liked how the film is only 57 minutes long. It’s the perfect length for a film of this kind, as the story doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Surprisingly, the performances are outstanding from this ensemble cast of unknown actors. Their ability to channel true dread left me on the edge of my computer chair. On a side note, the best way to watch this film is on your computer, as you’ll feel like you’re on a Zoom call with them.

Admittedly, while Host is an unsettling film, it’s not the scariest horror movie out there. Many of the scares are the standard sequences that you’d see in a Paranormal Activity film. Thankfully, the frights are executed well enough to make the 57 minutes pass by very quickly.

Not Rated

Published in Dawn, ICON, August 16th, 2020

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