Director Rob Savage got a reaction out of his friends last April with a jump-scare prank on Zoom. He told them he'd been hearing things in his attic, and, with them on the call, decided to investigate with a knife. The prank went so well, it inspired him to write and direct the long short film (under an hour) Host, which is now streaming on Shudder.
I've been hearing strange noises from my attic, so I called a few friends and went to investigate… pic.twitter.com/CxmJAf44ob
— Rob Savage (@DirRobSavage) April 21, 2020
Host's premise revolves around a group of friends meeting up on Zoom to stay in touch while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the friends, the uptight but justified Hayley (Haley Bishop), sets up the meeting as an "online seance," calling in a medium to provide some low-key thrills for her friends. The seance goes about as well as any seance goes in a horror movie, though Host is far from typical in its brilliance and unique execution.
Though Host takes place on a computer screen, it feels different from previous attempts at laptop horror because its principal photography actually took place using the devices used by the characters. In an interview with SF Chronicle, director Rob Savage explained that he got Zoom's permission to use their software in the film, taught the actors how to set up spooky effects with fishing wire, and directed their performances over video chat. His authentic approach seeps into Host's final product, making its quality all the more impressive.
Always on the lookout for new horror/science fiction/dystopian films for Friday movie nights, I know what I'll be watching tonight. Here's the trailer for Host.