Trapped

This woman looks like what I feel inside. It’s frigid, and I’ve been feeling the uncertainty covid has thrust upon us more deeply lately–it’s claustrophobic, and I’m trying to resist pessimism.

This woman’s angst stems from the pandemic too. Something has gone terribly wrong in the covid-safe séance that she and her friends hold on zoom.

This is a still from the movie Host, which is in The Economist’s list of Best Films of 2020. Touted as contemporary and topical (redundant?), Host is a British movie that was filmed during covid and is set in today’s covid times.

Host

Plot: A few friends get on zoom and hold a séance. At the outset, a medium tells them that they have to respect the spirits or the spirits will get mad. Need I say more? The spirits get dissed and are pissed. The whole movie is shot as a zoom call, so that the audience’s perspective is that of a zoom participant.

It’s covid from inception to product. It was filmed using covid precautions. The director and the actors were in separate locations to make the movie. In fact, the actors needed to film themselves and do some of their own special effects.

The Economist (part 1)

Review by N.B. (sic)

Bottom Line: Sure this plot sounds stupid, but I like horror and I like clever. And The Economist said it was “ingenious.” The reviewer writes that “Host was conceived and shot during lockdown, while the cast and crew were in separate locations, so it could be the film which most accurately reflects this topsy-turvy year.”

The Guardian

Review by Benjamin Lee

Bottom Line: Grade B. It holds effective scares, building up the right amount of tension–

“There’s a smattering of devilishly well-timed jump-scares that work best when our confusion leads us to examine the screen closer, unsure where within the frame a demonic presence might lie.”

Interesting Inspiration: Lee explains that the concept for Host grew out of a medium’s telling director Rob Savage that her séance business was booming during covid.

Spoilers Skimmable: For the most part, yes.

Shudder

Review by Louie Fecou

Bottom Line: it’s “well executed.” Horror fans will like it.

Spoilers Skimmable: On the whole, yes, though he does go into unnecessary detail about how the spirits are disrespected. You don’t need to know this detail to appreciate the review.

Best Line:

‘You have already seen this type of filmmaking before — you know, everything is conveyed through the computer screens of the cast. Just like found footage though, it runs the risk of becoming tired quite quickly, so you really have to be in the right frame of mind to watch this.”

The Economist (part deux)

I saw the movie. I was not drawn in.

Why would a movie like this even be in a “best of” list?

Maybe because it’s a novelty? The reviewer states that “‘Host’ is one of the few films to be more effective when watched at home on your laptop rather than at the cinema.”

I’m ok with disagreeing with a critic about a film. But when a movie is touted as among the year’s best, I expect a little more than a film that’s adequate for its genre. Maybe when you’re down in the bowels of a pandemic, you crave a good movie to bring you out out of it for a little bit. Best not to depend on a hit list at this time.

small movie for a small screen