By BRYCE ADDISON M. PINEDA
Someone new has joined the meeting…
Shudder released its new found footage horror film, Host, directed by Rob Savage, on Jul. 30.
Shot straight from the actors’ own homes, the film features an ensemble cast which includes Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova and Caroline Ward. The film revolves around six women participating in a Zoom call with a medium (Seylan Baxter) to contact the spirits through conducting a séance. As time passes, their Zoom call starts to get increasingly sinister and paranormal.
After its initial release to streaming platforms, the film received universal praise from both critics and fans of the horror genre alike due to its minimalism and use of practical effects despite the filming process being entirely done by the cast because of the ongoing pandemic.
The filming was substandard due to unchangeable circumstances, however, compared to other generic found footage films, such as Unfriended, with less gore and even more poorly executed jump scares, the film was incredibly lackluster.
Unfortunately, the film’s story suffered from the beginning due to its pacing. With a runtime of 57 minutes, the first sign of paranormal activity occurred about halfway through the film. Usually, a slow burn would not render a horror film to be ineffective, but in the case of this film, a third of its runtime consisted of shallow introductions to the characters as they connect to the call and talk about things that do not contribute anything to the storyline, giving barely any meaningful sense as to who they are, that feel more like padding instead of actual story progression.
Furthermore, to the nightmare of every fan of the horror genre, the film possessed unnecessary sequences joined by the frustrating lack of common sense from the main cast when facing paranormal activity. Why did they not call the medium sooner? Why did they not drop the call? Why did they not ask for help through the internet?
For example, when the unexplained phenomena started to appear, the cast remained listless in their place as their Zoom call gets interrupted with glitchy face cams and unexplained noises. With so many viable solutions around them, the characters not attempting to even call for help disengages the audience from the storyline. Instead, it is replaced by the common frustration towards an overdone trope: the main cast being unable to use common sense to avoid the supernatural problem, even with all the ominous signs.
In addition, another flaw in the film is the uncreativeness with a lot of its scarier scenes, primarily when the supernatural being appears. Towards the end of the film, one scene in which Emma pours flour on the floor as the paranormal entity’s footprints leave markings on it is a direct rip-off of a scene in Paranormal Activity wherein the same scenario occurred.
Of course, the cast having to learn and execute their own practical effects should be commended, especially looking at their inexperience in cinematography. However, it still does not excuse the film from being bland in terms of storyline and characterization; with its overdone theatrics and slow progression, the film fails to form even the smallest connection between the viewers and the characters.
Ultimately, the film left no lasting impressions or fascinating theories in the viewer’s mind as the storyline suffered from the same old unoriginal clichés seen in previous found footage films that came before it.
If you can look past the many drawbacks of the film, it will provide an interesting viewing experience, especially to those who regularly use the online video service.
But, even if you do not watch it, you are not really missing out on the “greatest found footage film” ever created.