Rob Savage – HOST
(3 / 5) – A test of character for a horror film that develops from what could have been its weaknesses.
- The courage/recklessness in approaching a film like this.
- The tension induced by the way it is shot.
- A rather simplistic writing.
- Nothing thematically or narratively new under the sun.
JUST A FEW WORDS (RIGHT AFTER THE VIEWING):
Host is a film that succeeds in the difficult task of turning the evident complex elements in the management of nowadays filming into positive elements. Set precisely in these times, it develops in the period of the lockdown thus offering the director and his crew the possibility of having a narrative logic behind the choice of setting the whole film within a web-conference.
However, despite the gimmick, the biggest limitation lies precisely in the narrative point of view. Host shows itself as a rather banal film and that suffers from a somewhat gross pen (how do the characters relax and even laugh about what happened, around 3/4 of the film?). We have the impression that they wanted to make it almost an instant film which, however, sacrifices the quality of writing in order to skip, slyly, in the current moment and avoid losing its contemporary character.
A point decidedly in favor of the film lies in the fact that, even in the face of a limp writing, it manages to instill a very good degree of tension that is played between the wait and the substantial firmness of the point of view (the various webcams). Although the actors sometimes move the webcam trying to make the visual space slightly more dynamic, the sensation left to the spectator is that of a certain distance that makes him an observer (without any form of intervention) and that blocks those mental processes for which we generally feel “inserted” (brief hints of these dynamics can be found in our analyzes of The Walk and The Shining) in a space within the film.
The viewer is in tension, but mainly on a reflective rather than immersive level, because we know that most of the things will happen behind the characters (and therefore in favor of the camera, rather than the characters themselves) and are put there only and exclusively in order to frighten us.
The film makes a great use of VFX which, thanks also to the imperfections of the quality of the web-conferences that hide the nature of the effects (and the relative low budget character), seem rather realistic and credible (obviously within the limits of the suspension of disbelief. ).
Host (a rather short film that barely reaches an hour) was shot in a period in which the classic film production with the physical presence of crew and cast on set was put in relative crisis and takes its cue from the core of our experience of these times to “fight” this same crisis: the ghostly (and socially distanced) conversation in video call.
From a production point of view, even if it is not a completely innovative work – films produced based on the idea of web-conferences were already widely available before this film, an example of which is definitely Searching – it indicates a way that in all probability will be exploited exponentially in order to try to address the limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic.
In conclusion, Host manages to transform an objective difficulty – that has brought many other realities to their knees – into something interesting and does so succeeding in a humble way, with a low budget, but which achieves the central purpose of the genre to which it refers: give a scare to those who look.
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