Host (2020)

host poster 2020 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Short and effective

Sometimes high-concept films like Host are hard to make compelling for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name: Host

Studio: Shadowhouse Films

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  July 30, 2020

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

host zoom seance horror movie

Astral Plane? Take a shot!

In lockdown from COVID-19, Haley (Haley Bishop) brings a group of friends together to host an online séance.  When Jemma (Jemma Moore) doesn’t respect the rules of the séance as outlined by Seylan (Seylan Baxter), something else has been contacted.  Now, one-by-one the group is facing something unearthly and evil in their homes and what once was the only safe place, has now become a thing of terror.

Directed by Rob Savage, Host is a technological supernatural horror movie.  The film was made under COVID restrictions and utilizes the Zoom Cloud Meeting program.  It was released on Shudder and received positive reviews.

Technology movies are tricky.  The first problem is that they must be topical and this threatens to limit their timespan.  The second problem is that innovative, doesn’t always mean good or fun (or scary).  Host does a decent job getting over that hump, but in the world of horror movies (if you took out the novelty), the film is kind of average.

host demon monster

…awww, the demon is shy

The story for Host is the weakest part of Host, but it is also the strongest part in its framework.  In 2020, everyone was trapped.  COVID was raging, you didn’t see anyone you knew, and the only way out your house was through things like Zoom and meetings.  The idea that being trapped in your house and Zoom meetings would kill you is perfect for the time.  The movie has every character trapped in a little box that they can’t get out of…and they do it in under an hour because Zoom meetings have limits.

Likewise, the story is also the weak part.  While the format and the horror is solid surrounding the movie, the story is just so-so.  The generic “summoned spirit” and the whole disrespecting the medium has been done to death.  The (mostly) unseen monster terrorizing a group isn’t very new or original.  The format of the movie helps alleviate some of the clichés, but there are still a lot of typical aspects to this movie’s plot.

zoom ending jemma

This is what you get for breaking quarantine, Jemma

While you do see the demon a few times, it is largely like a found footage movie where bumps, noises, and the framework of Zoom are played with for the visuals.  The movie does this rather effective…since many people hate sitting through Zoom meetings, a Zoom movie might not be everyone’s thing, but the movie is shot decently (the cast pretty much had to do their own work).  It will be interesting to see how the movie holds up over the years with technology changing and time marching on.

I definitely admire the makers of Host for making the best out of a bad situation.  They created a rather original horror movie that does borrow stylistically (and somewhat thematically) from movies like Unfriended and Searching.  Going all in on the Zoom format at a time when everyone is struggling with it was a gamble.  Either people would not want to commit to something they were forced into everyday through work and meetings or people will like it…and Host worked.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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