‘Host’ Review: A Zoom Séance Channels Spirits and Melancholy

Movies|‘Host’ Review: A Zoom Séance Channels Spirits and Melancholy

In this horror movie, an angry ghost rages on a Zoom call, and speaks to a moment of uncertainty.

‘Host’ Review: A Zoom Séance Channels Spirits and Melancholy
Clockwise from top left: Emma Louise Webb, Caroline Ward, Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova and Jemma Moore in “Host.”Credit...Shudder
Directed by Rob Savage

If the future of filmmaking is remote and socially distanced, a Zoom séance isn’t such a bad place to start. Rob Savage, the director and co-writer of “Host,” finds a surprising amount of ingenuity in mining the horror of yet another quarantine conference call.

Streaming on Shudder, the film makes easy observations about how the pandemic has changed the most mundane activities, but perhaps contains even greater insight. As Haley (Haley Bishop) gathers a group of friends to speak with a medium (Seylan Baxter), the unleashing of an angry demon seems to speak to a collective id.

Savage makes common Zoom call interruptions, like strange noises and glitchy video, play double duty as both red herrings and supernatural disturbances. But while the unhappy ghost wreaks havoc, the yearning for collective activity simmers beneath the film’s lo-fi aesthetic.

Channeling the spirits of the dead, on the internet no less, becomes a useful analogy for mourning the recent past. As we sit at home with the devices that promised us limitless possibilities in our hands, “Host” identifies the uncomfortable in-between state we exist in, operating ghostlike. One can relate to the fury the poltergeist unleashes, thrashing apartment objects about.

Though not as dynamic as “Unfriended,” another “desktop movie,” “Host” observes uncannily the supernatural, ephemeral, and material worlds colliding together, gesturing toward an uncertain future. This concise, entertaining spin on the ghost story proposes that maybe the modern world is a haunted house now.

Not rated. Running time: 56 minutes. Watch on Shudder.

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