Runtime: 56 minutes. Countless spookies.
Welcome to the latest installment of horror for cowards. This time, I’m going to sacrifice my comfort to watch a movie called Host that’s supposed to be legitimately frightening!
Host is available on Shudder (which is currently offering a seven-day free trial) and here’s how they describe the movie:
Before we begin, there are SPOILERS AHEAD. If you want to watch the movie without knowing details, stop reading. This is a FULL RECAP for people who don’t do horror!
The movie begins with Haley (left) starting a Zoom call with a group of friends. The first to join is Jemma (right).
Because I’m watching on my laptop, it feels like I’m on a Zoom call with this group of friends exchanging greetings. It’s relatable except instead of being like, “Let’s all play Jackbox Games” or whatever, they’re like, “Everyone ready to do a séance?”
The group is also joined by their friend Teddy. Before he hops on the call, they were talking about how much they don’t like his girlfriend (who you can see there in the background).
Caroline has a fun Zoom background video of herself walking into her room. (Remember this.)
Before bringing in the instructor who will be guiding them through the séance, Haley tells her friends to TAKE THINGS SERIOUSLY AND BE RESPECTFUL. Seems like the least you can do when trying to slide in the DMs of various spirits, right?
Eleven minutes into the movie, the séance instructor is about to join the call. I’ve come back after watching to tell anyone who is considering watching the movie that they definitely should. Otherwise, here comes all the juicy stuff.
Oh, ONE LAST REMINDER FROM HALEY: BE RESPECTFUL.
Seylan, the séance guru, gives them the rundown. She says they’ll be able to communicate with any loved ones, even pets, because there are different laws/no language barriers on the astral plane. They light candles and turn off their lights.
Seylan says that the spirits might respond by making a name or face pop into their minds, or a flicker in their candles, or perhaps even a knock or a touch.
Ted’s girlfriend (who nobody likes) swoops in and clicks him out of the Zoom. Honestly, that’s probably the first good decision I’ve seen anyone make thus far.
Seylan continues her spiel, cavalierly mentioning that they could be possessed during the séance. She says it’s not a bad thing, it’s just a spirit communicating through their body.
Early on in the séance, there’s not much happening. They think they see a static light moving behind Radina (bottom right), then they think they hear a thud, so they ask the hypothetical spirit to knock if it’s present and…
THERE’S A DEFINITIVE LOUD KNOCK. However, the knocks are just food arriving at Seylan’s door. She really ordered Postmates before summoning spirits! Probably used promo code SÉANCE666 for free delivery.
A little over 20 minutes in and nothing definitive has happened. THEN, Jemma says the name Jack popped into her head. She becomes emotional and tells the story of a boy named Jack who she knew as a kid. Jemma says Jack was nice to her, but he hanged himself.
While Jemma continues emotionally talking about Jack, something falls behind Seylan and they lose connection with her.
With Seylan disconnected, the group checks to make sure Jemma is emotionally OK. Jemma reveals that IT WAS ALL A JOKE. She made the story up because she was bored with the lack of activity during the séance.
HALEY: Take the séance seriously.
Everyone is relieved/amused (except for Haley).
There’s an intense argument brewing when suddenly Haley’s chair is dragged back against the wall. I’d just like to state NOPE, and furthermore ABSOLUTELY NOT. At this point, they’ve got to be 100% done with the séance, right?
WRONG. Haley says they’ve made a connection and wants to pursue it. (I’m coming back after watching to note that this happens around 23 minutes in — halfway through the movie. From this point on, everything is HIGHLY STRESSFUL.)
They think they hear noise coming from Caroline’s place, so she checks her attic. As her camera pans around, you can momentarily spot A DANGLING PAIR OF LEGS.
Then, Haley takes a picture down her hallway and sees what appears to be a hanging boy.
Then, Emma’s glass shatters.
Hayley calls Seylan back (she’s probably still eating her delivery) and they tell her Jemma made up the story of Jack. Seylan is like, “Y’dun goofed,” and warns that they’ve potentially summoned a false spirit and it could be demonic.
Seylan advises them to shut down the connection to the spirits. They attempt to do this, but the lights go crazy and the call with Seylan is dropped. Still, the group tries to do the spirit disconnecting themselves. Eventually, they believe they’ve succeeded.
Once they think they’ve cut ties with the séance, Caroline walks off and is gone for a minute. Finally, it looks like she comes back, but then you realize it’s that fun Zoom background she made. Spooky.
I’m pretty sure Caroline’s face just slammed into her computer before returning to her creepy background.
I’d like to credit Emma for constantly having her head on a swivel throughout this movie. She seems realistically on edge, constantly checking her surroundings.
I’d like to constructively criticize Emma for seeing that one of the Zoom mask filters is picking up a face nearby and choosing to walk up to it and reach out, prompting it to turn toward her.
Emma throws flour on the ground and sees footprints coming toward her. She’s chased through her crib and winds up hiding under a sheet.
Radina’s boyfriend drops from the second floor. Then Radina is dragged and presumably killed, as her laptop is left on the ground with a spatter of blood on it.
Caroline reappears for a few moments, her face being repeatedly smashed into her computer until she disappears, and all you can see is her extremely unsettling background, which has managed to become more chilling every time it replays.
Haley gets dragged out of her chair, then yanked out of the door.
Since they live close, Jemma runs to Haley’s. Look at that, even in the midst of a demonic spirit (that she’s responsible for summoning) murdering all her friends, Jemma wore a mask out. Respect.
Teddy rejoins the call. Emma’s like, “bro, run,” but Teddy thinks he’s being trolled. Then, his electricity goes out…
While Teddy’s walking around his dark-ass crib trying to get the power on, his flashlight shines on this face. Big nope. Teddy runs outside to his girlfriend.
Teddy’s girlfriend (who was just minding her own business AND initially pulled him out of this séance mess) gets killed by the demon. It pulls her in the air, cracks her neck, and drops her in the pool.
Teddy gets knocked out and burned alive. Brutal. Poor Emma is horrified watching all of this go down. I wish she’d consider getting up and leaving her house while the demonic spirit is busy killing other people. Regardless of thread count, I don’t imagine the sheet is evil spirit–proof.
Damn, too late. The demon threw Emma out the window.
Jemma arrives at Haley’s place and sees all of the inactive Zoom screens. Zero movement except for Caroline’s haunting background, which has become the sinister mascot for this movie.
Everyone begins to drop from the Zoom and we see a bottle of wine crack Jemma in her dome.
The wine didn’t kill Jemma! She gets up and finds Haley. They agree they need to leave, but the lights are all out.
Haley snaps photos to use her camera’s flash for light, and on the last flash, the Zoom ends with this…
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