We were supposed to be opening up—well, hell, we were supposed to be opening up in April. (Remember that? in time for Easter!) But the latest “we were supposed to be opening up” was August 20th, at least for the movie theaters. The AMC has been taunting me with visions of a Train To Busan sequel, a Rocky marathon, hell, The Empire Strikes Back—the only good Star Wars movie (out of the 14) I will sometimes say if I want to start Internet fights.
But as you may know, I live in Los Angeles, and we are to be punished at least until the election, and possibly after if the “elite” don’t get their way. So I drove around to the AMC, then to the Regal in Simi Valley, which is in Ventura County (or “God’s Country”) thinking that, at least might be relatively free of the stupid but no luck.
I’ve been falling back on the horror streaming service, Shudder, more often, whether to watch Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In Show——the “Summer Sleepover” episode featured the classic Slumber Party Massacre 2 and the relatively recent (and delightfully old school) slasher Victor Crowley—or just to see what new stuff they have and what old stuff they’ve brought back. (I re-watched Dan Curtis’ Dracula, with Jack Palance as the Count, which I remember watching with my parents back when it came out nearly 29 years ago.) One of their new movies, however, was a clever little flick, recently made, called Host.
The setup is just as ordinary as can be: A bunch of friends get together to have a seance and things go spooky.
Sure we’ve seen it before—a lot. But have we seen it done as a Zoom meeting?
That’s the gimmick: Everyone is locked down, so they decide to have the seance over Zoom. And the challenge level (production-wise) is that the cast and crew are genuinely locked down in the UK and therefore the actors had to do a lot of things on their own: lighting, make-up, special effects (except for the ones done in post), etc. And it’s actually surprisingly effective. Shudder recommends you watch it on your laptop with the lights out and I think a blanket draped over you and the screen. I didn’t go that far (because I’m not that big a goofball and also I don’t think inhaling your own CO2 is a great idea) but I did enjoy it.
It’s in the Paranormal Activity mode, though it benefits greatly from being only about an hour long, getting in, getting out, not explaining much, and just trading on the essential realism of the situation. At this point, we’ve all done these video meetings, and we’re familiar with the little tricks and idiosyncrasies, so it’s kind of nice to see them put to more creative uses, like scaring the crap out of people.
Relative newcomers, the lot of them. Rob Savage is supposed to have a genuine feature coming out next year, called Seaholme, and I’ll be checking that out (if it pans out). The actresses are good-looking but not glammed up. You could genuinely get the idea that the actual actors (whose character names are their real names) just call each other up a lot and chat. There’s some good character development, though not overdone.
And about the time you’d start getting claustrophobic (in a bad way), it’s over.
It’s a fun little film, and a good example of making lemonade out of lemons.