It was an inevitability that someone would make a horror movie about the Zoom meeting aspect of quarantine life. Staring at those little squares during meetings, it isn’t hard to imagine something popping up in the background, either a slasher or a monster. Unfortunately, those would be harder to work in anything longer than a short or maybe as a part of a conventional movie. That’s why the makers of HOST took a more spectral angle.
In the movie, a group of friends all gather together in an online meeting to have a seance. They don’t say why they are doing it other than it is something to do, though Haley, the one who organizes it has used the medium before so there is clearly something she wants her friends to experience. Well, things don’t go quite as planned and it becomes clear that whatever presence that the girls have contacted, it isn’t friendly and in fact is downright demonic. Glasses break, chairs are pulled away, strange figures are seen and that is just the start of it. Now they have to find a way to break contact before things escalate.
Clocking in just under and hour, HOST is a fast movie (and shorter than most of the meetings I’m in), taking only a little of its runtime to get set up before throwing us right into the meeting. We get to know a bit about each of the friends and the lives they are living in quarantine and then the seance begins. The premise is simple and effective and is used here to great effect. We find ourselves scanning the frames as the girls do, looking for some element of strangeness that might clue us in to what is tormenting them. Their fear is palpable and we root to hopefully get out of the situation before they meet an untimely end. Perhaps the girls could end it if they just left their houses and apartments, but they are so concerned about the fate of their friends they stick it out until the bitter end. Then again, there is no proof that just running away would save them.
It’s a solid movie and the cast is believable and friendly so you find yourself rooting for them instead of hoping them a quick end. Not much is explained as to the how and why of the haunting that happens but that doesn’t make it any less scary. Indeed, it is that lack of over-explanation that works in its favor as we don’t know the rules or what the girls can do to stop it until they try themselves. There are some great scares in it that I won’t spoil here that you are sure to get a kick out of. Most of them are of the jump scare variety but the few that aren’t are truly horrific and unsettling.
Check it out.