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Social Distancing

Host follows a group of friends that perform a seance over Zoom, only to accidentally summon an evil entity that hunts them down one by one.

Host Review

Horror can adapt to almost any trend, circumstance, or cultural environment, and there is no further proof necessary than that of Host. This film is nothing more than a clever idea that was well executed with a modest (almost nil?) budget and some heart amidst times that simply aren't permitting to film productions. Much like Paranormal Activity, the film far exceeds the money available, and for that alone it should be commended. But just like the lauded Paranormal Activity, it doesn't mean there can't be flaws amidst the apparent obstacles. This film is trying to tackle not only a minor budget, but also the limitations of social distancing, and pulls off a horror film that is rather engaging from beginning to end.

I don't want to give a film too much credit for simply mildly succeeding due to limitations and obstacles. It had its share of problems too. Like many films that creatively reinvent the "found footage" genre, it still inevitably falls into the same tropes of excessive moments of jade-inducing panic, "unseen forces" (read: noises, objects shifting), and dialogue that flirts between realistic and bland. Any depth to characters feels forced, and no one is explored to any degree that makes you care for them. They are all fodder. And, sometimes, that's okay in a horror movie.

The found footage genre loves to leave things to the imagination, but sometimes the means that gets to that end is too artificial and the curtain of realism is pulled back to reveal the low-budget strings that are pulling the camera conveniently away. This film offers enough visual gags that it balances the off-screen imagination scenes with legitimate happenings. The climax ultimately pays off in a larger way than other found footage films, but is familiar, particularly in the realm of short films...

I will admit that while it was a great horror romp when considering the responsive nature of it due to our social distancing circumstances, it also wasn't particularly fresh or eventful. Much of the film feels as though it could have been condensed into a short film with a couple of conventional jump scares, leaving the rest of the film with the sense of unnecessary fluff. The acting is plenty good for the amount of one-shot takes necessary to pull off the production, but it also leaves it fairly bland in the writing department with most of everything being improvised rather than scripted (I would imagine). And there are only a few blessed souls that can pull off flawless improvisation over the course of an hour.

Despite the inherent flaws that can't be ignored or dismissed, Host is by no means a waste of time. I appreciate it on a deep level for what it achieved in this time of uncertainty and limitation, further embodying the capabilities and adaptability of the horror genre. Horror isn't afraid to take chances, and fail, on minuscule budgets. Some of the admirable attempts out there fail too much for even a silver lining. Others are redeemable enough to be worth a watch. Host falls into the latter.

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 6/10 Film Quality: 6/10

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