Host was a bit of a surprise for many people in 2020. The goal with Host was to take the quarantine from Covid-19 and use it both as inspiration as well as working within the limitations to make a horror movie. Given all the limitations (time, how they could shoot it, etc.), they managed to put together a delightful little horror movie that is tense, scary, and really taps into parts of what lockdown felt like for many people.
Host was smart because while Covid is a factor in the movie, it is not the main monster or even the main focus. In about 3 years, I feel that we will start being bombarded with Covid stories that will likely leave us feeling more fatigued with this. Host had to be done at the right time, in the right way, and I think it was.
For starters, it doesn’t overwhelm us with it. They are clearly all separate, and the lockdown is mentioned and part of the experience but not heavily focused on. Instead, what is heavily used is the loneliness and isolation most of us had to confront at one point or another.
They are all one by one separated in some way from the group either by being completely disconnected or singled out. All of them are desperately trying to keep reaching out to one another but are unable to do so physically. The actual physical representation of their isolation and loneliness combined with the more symbolic one weighs heavily over the entire movie and starts to weigh on the audience.
One of the moments that really got to me is, at one point, Emma begs her friend “not to leave her” while that same friend is finally physically going out into the world. She feels so alone and abandoned she would rather her friend stay on the call with her because that’s the only way she can connect in that moment. It’s kind of an interesting take on the new nature of being “together” or “alone” that we all were and, in many cases, still are adjusting to.
Using quarantine more as a set-piece allowed the movie to avoid feeling like it was taking advantage of the moment in a disrespectful way. It may also help it to stand out as we start to get more and more of them.
I remain impressed and frightened by Host.