Friday, October 02, 2020

Hosts: Horrible Christmas Horror

Body-snatching movies are particularly insidious, because they make us ask if our loved ones have been podded by an outside force or if they have just been corrupted by an evil ideology, like Communism. However, there is not a lot of ambiguity when the snatched bodies have glowing red eyes and they act like homicidal maniacs. Frankly, Michael shouldn’t have never let his Christmas Eve guests through the door, but he does and it turns out horrendously in screenwriter-director Adam Leader & Richard Oakes’ Hosts, which releases today on VOD.

Michael has befriended Jack and his girlfriend Lucy, because unbeknownst to them, he abandoned the former and his mother, shortly after his birth. Subsequently, Michael settled down with Cassie and had a family with her that he was more emotionally prepared to support. Part of Michael wanted to come clean with Jack during the holiday get-together, but that won’t be happening now. Quite unfortunately, Jack and Lucy are possessed by some sort of sinister agency before leaving for the dinner party, where they soon start committing acts of shocking violence.

Leader & Oakes leave the exact nature of the badness annoyingly vague. There are good reasons to think it is demonic, given the evil Lucy turns pictures of Jesus face-down. On the other hand, media reports drop ludicrous hints that this is all somehow related to fracking, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

In all fairness,
Hosts probably works best as an in-person midnight movie, screening at a theater that serves beer—a whole lot of it. The whole film essentially hinges on an explosively brutal timing joke. Maybe it works in a theater full of drunk fans, but at home, it just seems cruelly unfair. Regardless, it certainly sets the tone for the rest of the picture. Honestly, most viewers will just feel relieved when it finally ends.

Frank Jakeman is very good playing Michael, but his work is undermined by a confused vision for the film. Much of what happens seems intended to expose Michel’s Christian hypocrisy, but everything that befalls him and his family only builds sympathy for them. It doesn’t help that Samantha Loxley and Neal Ward play Lucy and Jack as such emotionless zombies. At least Nadia Lamin creates a sense that Michael’s grown daughter Lauren is a multi-dimensional, flesh-and-blood character, but that makes the viciousness unleashed against her all the more distressing.

Hosts (not to be confused with the clever Covid-era séance movie, Host) is driven by demonic possession or force-of-nature body-snatching, the only thing that really distinguishes Leader & Oakes’ approach is the sadistic brutality. This just isn’t worth your time or effort, because it’s no fun at all. Watch Host (singular) or Metamorphosis on Shudder instead. Not recommended, Hosts releases today (10/2) on VOD platforms.