Malcolm & Marie and the Rise of Quarantine Filmmaking in COVID – Den of Geek

Interestingly, one of Levinsons early pitches to Zendaya was a horror film, although of course they eventually pivoted to relationship drama. Fortunately, another enterprising group of creatives went the horror route, and they managed to fold in a poignant tale of female friendship over digital distances in 2020s Host.

A British found footage successor to Paranormal Activity told entirely over Zoom, this indie tale has a shockingly reasonable premise: Five girlfriends, bored to tears during lockdown, decide to conduct a sance. (Again, what else are you going to do?) But when sarcastic Jemma (Jemma Moore) fakes a backstory about a suicidal friend and their medium Seylan (Seylan Baxter) mysteriously drops the call, the girls are on their own as a demonic force crosses over into the physical plane and into each of their flats.

In the past year, weve all learned that Zoom calls can be awkward, boring, and occasionally revelatorybut this is the first time theyre truly scary. Host utilizes the familiar horror tropes of darkened rooms and whispered panting at the slightest of suspicious noises, but it takes on an utterly disturbing dimension when its five young women, in the prime of their lives, are all trapped at home apart from one anothernot even that far, as Jemma and sance enthusiast Haley (Haley Bishop) live within walking distance of each other.

In found footage fashion, there are plenty of Paranormal Activity-esque moments of people getting dragged or lifted by otherworldly forces. Kudos to director and co-writer Rob Savage for remotely directing his actors, who had to learn how to do the aforementioned practical effects inside their own homes. But where Host is scariest is when it leans into Zoom technology, from a chilling use of silly facial filters to a sequence that will make you reconsider ever making a custom video background for your future Zooms.

As the demon begins picking them off at random, with the others watching in helpless horror, Jemmas shift from apathetic nonbeliever to selflessly trying to save Haley is incredibly moving. Theres so much history to this fractured friendship that youll be rooting for them to reconcile, even as you realize Hosts final trick: Its only as long as an unpaid Zoom session.

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Malcolm & Marie and the Rise of Quarantine Filmmaking in COVID - Den of Geek

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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