Shudder: Host brings new (and scary) life to found footage

Host: A Shudder Original. Image Courtesy Shudder
Host: A Shudder Original. Image Courtesy Shudder /

Can an effective (and frightening) horror film be made entirely through Zoom, with each actor and the director working remotely? Shudder original film Host answers that question with a resounding “YES!”

The premise of Host is simple, yet genius. Clearly we are in current times, with each of the actors in isolation (a mask is even donned at one point). A group of six friends set up a Zoom meeting, during which they plan to perform a séance with the help of a medium named Seylan.

One of the friends drops out of the meeting before anything serious starts to happen, so we are left with five young women and Seylan. As young women are often inclined to do, there is some joking around, despite Seylan warning them that if they are going to do this, they need to take it seriously and not tick off any spirits.

As you can probably guess, the women continue to joke around, and this causes some very intense and frightening activity to begin in each of their homes. At a running time of slightly less than an hour, we don’t have to wait too long for the scares to happen.

You have to admire the special effects, lighting and camera work here, especially since they literally had to happen in the individual spaces, handled by the actors themselves. Actors Emma Webb, Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward and Radina Drandova manage to make this film feel very real, and as if it’s happening in real time. Edward Linard and Seylan Baxter are also strong, but the burden of this chilling little tale rests on the other five actors, and they make every minute count.

Host, from director Rob Savage. Photo Credit: Shudder /

While this type of film is a rather new sub-genre to found footage, it looks like it may have been influenced by The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity in style and tone. The journey to Shudder apparently began with a prank video orchestrated by director Rob Savage via a Zoom Happy Hour with some of his friends (including most of the actors who ultimately appeared in Host). He later posted an excerpt from the original meeting via his twitter account, and it’s definitely worth watching, since their reactions prove that each of the participants were genuinely wigged out.

Following the successful prank, Savage pulled together fellow writers Jed Shepherd, Gemma Hurley and Douglas Cox, and 12 weeks later the little horror film that could made its premier on streaming service Shudder.

I have been a longtime horror fan, and few movies genuinely scare me, but this one did. There are jump scares aplenty, but they earn the jump and never feel cheap. For maximum effect, Savage recommends watching Host on your laptop with all the lights out, while wearing earbuds, and I would concur. Particularly if you have participated in any Zoom meetings recently, you may just feel like you are part of the film.

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Host can only be streamed on Shudder. If you are new to the streaming network, you can receive a free 30-day trial subscription by visiting their website and subscribing directly. Use the code SHUTIN at checkout.

Have you seen Shudder Original Host? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments section.