When we’re looking back on the age of the coronavirus pandemic a few years from now—hopefully that will actually come to pass—then we’ll surely at some point have to collect all of this era’s “Zoom parody” pieces into a single tome for assessment of how they reflected our anxieties of living through the pandemic. That means all of the Zoom commercials, the Zoom sketches on SNL, and yes, the Zoom horror movies. Of which I can only assume Host will be a prime example.
Shudder’s new original film just hit the horror streamer this week, and packs a trailer that is both knowingly derivative but fun in its own especially “DIY” sort of way. This film was truly shoe-strung together by its cast and crew, being filmed entirely by the actors themselves in their own homes. Not once did director Rob Savage (Dawn of the Deaf) actually set foot in any of the actors’ homes due to social distancing protocols, and we have to say that considering all those limitations, what they’ve produced actually looks surprisingly competent.
Sure, we’ve seen pretty much all of this before. The “horror movie over online conference call” has been around for more than half a decade, since 2014’s Unfriended. And some of the specific scares here, like an invisible force leaving footprints in flour or white powder, have been lifted directly from Paranormal Activity. But it also looks like Host got fairly ambitious with its practical effects when it comes to throwing its actors around, especially considering that most of the time those actors were having to rig the effects themselves. We can only imagine what an unusual and demanding shoot this must have been, especially for Savage in the role of coordinator for all of these actors filming their own segments. In effect, it’s like trying to run half a dozen different film shoots at once.
Check out the trailer for Host below and see for yourself. If nothing else, it will likely always stand as a weirdo time capsule of this bizarre moment in history. The film is streaming now on Shudder.