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Watch Host (2020) online

Year: 2020
Country: UK
Time: 57min
Director:Rob Savage
Quality: HD
I want to get this out of the way: I am a friend of Haley Bishop's (who plays Haley, the lead and the host of the Zoom call). We met in college and lived in the same dorm, so we got close. I remember her as a good singer at the time, and since then I started to know her as a good up-and-coming actress. I have been supporting her as she's getting more roles, so when I first learned that she was in Host, I knew I had to check it out ASAP.

Anyway, onto the film that I would coin as "Paranormal Activity meets Unfriended meets quarantine" (not Quarantine the movie, but our current situation heh). This 56-minute Shudder original production plays succinctly, and this becomes an advantage for the film's story structure. It might have helped because I'm personally connected with Haley, but because she was essentially playing "herself" I was easily able to connect with the other members in the Zoom call, seeing them as "her friends." I didn't need massive amounts of character introduction, and they were able to naturally develop and distinguish themselves in quick and short order. They don't feel like campy horror movie characters, they just felt like people. It made it feel really easy to be involved in the session.

The timing of this film is also noteworthy, and in my opinion it is most important that people who CAN watch it now are also able to. This flick is focused around a seance through online chat because they are quarantined. This is our lives right now, and this is the kind of way that something like this would and should have to occur. We aren't a stranger to the elements that the writers and director of Host wanted to convey most strongly. This helps brings a little bit more charm for us who are all feeling a bit insane during these times. This time, watch others live it for a little while, and watch terror occur in the process! Heh.

The audience members who were critical of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk had fits partly with the lack of girth that could have been used to build the characters and story. In a similar sense, Host wastes no time giving you the characters, perhaps a foreshadowing item or two that you expect to arise later, and won't answer every question that you might have about what you see on screen. To this, I say that is completely fine. They work hard on giving you less and leaving you wanting more, and honestly the movie is better because of it. David Sandberg's short film version of Lights Out was impeccably creepier than its full-length feature film because they didn't try to provide exposition and background to everything, and this movie is like that but with a lot of character interaction in the process. I don't feel you'll be disappointed in this regard if you understand this intent.

This is well acted by all parties involved. What was nice is even if the movie might not necessarily scare you in itself (depending on who you are), the way that the actors convey fear when appropriate (as you'll also get bouts of denial and ignorance) makes you frightful as they are. Unlike Unfriended, this feels a lot less "produced," and that's a good thing, because I feel like Haley and the other actors could really play this in as few takes as possible, and even improvise when needed. There is at least one part that they had to play off an unintended mishap, and it was left in the movie not as a gag reel highlight, but rather as a happy accident.

I started playing this at 2:00 AM, knowing that I wouldn't be able to stay awake even an hour longer and I'd finish it the next day. Come 3:00 AM, I'm at the credits and wondering how I'm tenfold more awake than I was when I started the movie. It never really lets you breathe too much to say what a good stopping point would be if needed, and that's kind of a cool facet that many other films aren't able to have as often. It doesn't really play in "scenes," it's simply a "session" and I loved it for that.

Anyway, I will completely acknowledge my bias here, but I like that it did the screencasting found footage format differently, specifically by trimming the fat of the run time. It really worked in its own favor. If people here haven't seen Searching, you'll get another different take on what this format has to offer and excels as well (given that it takes more than one kind of source, has a soundtrack, zooms on parts of the screen, etc.), so it just goes to show that this format can work in a lot of different ways and still be successful in the process. Again, this helps for the times that we live in right now, and I highly commend them for executing it well on top of it.

If you're not a fan of Unfriended and Paranormal Activity, this MAY not be for you. However, if this review gives you slight hope of optimism, you have an hour to spare, and you would like to support my friend in the process, please hop onto Shudder and give this a looksie!
Host (2020)

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