The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for movies that have a sense of realism to them due to the technology used. Searching was one of my favorite movies of 2018 and I’ll always have a soft spot for Unfriended (but mostly 2, since that one was actually good) because of its use of Skype being as that’s been a program I’ve used for years. With the quarantine in full swing, it didn’t come to a shock to me when I heard about Rob Savage’s horror movie, Host, which takes place all over Zoom.
I listed a few movies in the beginning that already follow the shtick of following people over an internet video call, that’s nothing unique, what is unique is that now more than ever people are becoming accustomed to using these services. Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, whatever, these are much more relatable to people now than what it was a few years ago. That’s not to say that everyone and their mother will flock to this, but that it’s definitely a good usage of the pandemic. Not to mention that this was filmed during this whole situation helps bolster what this film can and it should be. I can safely say it nailed the direction as well. It was a quick 50 minute sit. No frills. No big filler. Get scared and get out. I love it. This works as either a primer for a more loaded scary movie or a quick popcorn flick to know you won’t have to commit much to. This movie respected your time.
The thing I think about when approaching these films is how we will end up having to fight whatever they end up doing. How does a group of friends just having a chat end up the victims of a horror movie? Well, Host isn’t subtle in what it does to land everyone in trouble. The group gets together to hold a seance with a medium. Eventually unhappy spirits barge in and chaos ensues. The plot is simple, but I like it that way. Some movies do the disservice of having to over explain the “rules” of the movie. Like a spirit can’t do this. Or they’ll go away with that. With the runtime so short, the movie knows to not bother with it and go with the flow.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The chemistry among all of the friends is pretty solid. We start off with Haley (Haley Bishop) and slowly grow into a cast of 6. Most friends get adequate enough screen time and luckily with it taking place over Zoom, everyone’s name is in the bottom corner of their screen so you won’t be lost on who’s who. Since the acting takes place alone, everyone has a few hurdles to get by when it comes to timing and reacting to not only each other but stuff in their room, still it all holds up well. Characters talk and react appropriately and no one tries to outshine anyone else. When the major stuff happens, each actress/actor really hits their stride. Zoom calls, as with anything else, can often leave a large group talking over each other, but the pacing of every person is so well done that it feels realistic without having to feel scripted.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"A great cast, a fun premise, and great rewatchability..."
I absolutely loved the small details that hid around each corner. This movie is 100% rewatchable, as with a lot of these sorts of films, which is also why I’m a big fan. It’s very easy with the chaos of multiple screens to miss a subtle detail here or there, and there’s plenty of those “blink and you’ll miss it” moments. The creativity that was used in Zoom and how to play around the limitations led to a very fun watch.
Host (2020) | SHUDDER
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
No score in here, that wouldn’t really make much sense. However, the sound design is something I touched on earlier. Big calls with friends leave many talking over one another and it’s not as organized as it can be. Everyone was mixed well and moments that hit you out of nowhere really come at you with a bang. From all I could pull from, the sound design was just as well done as the rest of the movie.
Is Host the greatest horror movie? No. Far from it. BUT-- it set out for exactly what they wanted to do. Savage wanted a quick get in and get out horror movie that could strike home for more people than ever right now. A great cast, a fun premise, and great rewatchability. This was an absolutely pleasant surprise. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting horror movie to get you by, this is yours.