As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe earlier this year, many people embraced social distancing in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus, resulting in people turning to video conferencing to connect with one another. Filmmaker Rob Savage used the service Zoom to craft a hilarious prank in which he made his friends think he was investigating a sound in his attic, only to terrify them by splicing in footage from [REC]. The prank quickly went viral, igniting the opportunity for him to develop the film Host, which was shot and edited during quarantine while observing social distancing protocols, with the film's debut on Shudder rivalling the success of the original prank.
"We didn't want this to just be a throwaway movie that people watched for quarantine and then forgot about," Savage shared with ComicBook.com about developing the project. "I'm hoping that you'll be able to stick this movie on five years from now and still have a blast watching it, even without the specifics of lockdown. The response has been nuts. Honestly, it's been a week and I'm still processing it and it feels very weird. The fact that we've released it while we're still in lockdown, I made the film locked down in my apartment. We released the film locked down in my apartment. I'm still locked down in my apartment. It hardly feels like anything has happened. And at the same time, the movie's blown up. The whole process from start to finish has been very surreal."
He noted, "From the initial concept of, 'Well, nobody's made a Zoom horror movie. Let's have a go.' From that initial idea to releasing on Shudders is just 12 weeks. So it was a really intense process."
Host is the story of six friends who hire a medium to hold a séance over Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargain for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night. The film stars Haley Bishop (Deep State), Radina Drandova (Dawn of the Deaf), Edward Linard (The Rebels), Jemma Moore (Doom: Annihilation), Caroline Ward (Stalling It) and Emma Louise Webb (The Crown), who also operated their own cameras, helped pull off their own practical effects, and lit their own scenes. Due to social distancing precautions, Savage never set foot in the same room as his actors at any point during production and instead directed them remotely.
What makes the film especially impressive is that it features a number of shocking effects, with the director noting the majority of them were pulled off practically with a talented stunt team.
"Every single practical effect had to have some VFX work to help it out, to paint out wires, things like that, but it was really important that it felt like there was a real weight to the effect and they felt present and physical and all these things because Zoom, and just this format, found footage, is so unforgiving," the filmmaker confessed. "You're looking at something completely unvarnished with the normal gloss that a movie would provide. So they needed to be real and they needed to make you wince. So we got a great stunt company to come and help us out and they had amazing contacts, like they knew a house full of stunt people who were all self-isolating together with so everyone who, legally, we'd required to do these crazy stunts were living together so we didn't have to break lockdown at all to do it. And it really worked like that. All of the scares, all of the special effects, all of the stunts, were born out of necessity. It was us literally with a blank slate at the beginning with just 'Zoom séance,' and we started writing down cool people that we knew. So, 'I know someone who we can throw out a window, I know someone we can set on fire, I know somebody who can explode a door for us.' And it really was back to front like that."
While the filmmaker has already teased that he hopes to deliver a follow-up to Host, he also has plans to collaborate with The Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi on a new project.
"Sam is an absolute hero of mine and it's been a dream to work with him on that project and he's really excited about keeping the momentum up on that project and I think the aim is, all depending on the state of the world, is that we try and shoot it next year," Savage confirmed. "So I'm hoping that that would be the next thing that I do out of the lockdown, found-footage space. There's not really much more I can say about it other than it's an idea that me and Jed [Shepherd], who again, worked on this, came up with, and it's one of those ideas that I just think that it's mad that nobody's done before. And if we manage to get it done next year and get out there first, I think it's gonna really make waves."0comments
Host is now streaming on Shudder.
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