HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HOSTS (2020)


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HOSTS (2020)

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UK horror takes place on Christmas Eve where a family dinner turns into a bloody nightmare. Michael (Frank Jakeman) and wife Cassie (Jennifer K Preston) are having a holiday dinner with their children when friends Lucy (Samantha Loxley) and Jack (Neal Ward) drop by to join them. Unknown to the family, Lucy and Jack have encountered something malicious that has taken control of both of them. Soon a night of celebration and festivities turns into an evening of terror and murder.

Flick is directed by Adam Leader and Richard Oakes from Leader’s script based on the pair’s story. The duo do provide some very disturbing scenes and chilling moments with their tale of possession. There is also some shockingly bloody violence to go along with the chills. One scene in particular comes out of nowhere and is quite cruel considering the character exposition it follows. The intent and origin of this supernatural/otherworldly threat isn’t quite spelled out, as first the possessed seem to simply delight in tormenting and harming their prey, then appear to be setting them up to be possessed by other like beings. At first they seem demonic, but then there is an indication they might be extraterrestrial…and, if so, cruel ones at that. A bit of ambiguity does work in the film’s favor. The visual FX are quite good and very creepy and the gore and bloodletting equally effective. The only thing that holds this little flick back a bit is that there are long dialogue stretches between the chills and action, where the film looses it’s momentum somewhat. There is certainly nothing wrong with character development, or some interesting reveals, but some of the scenes drag on and the film looses some of it’s grip as a result. The movie is just under 90 minutes long, so it certainly doesn’t wear out it’s welcome and it recovers for the finale, leaving one a bit unsettled, when it is over, thanks to a spooky last act. The cinematography by Oakes is quite effective, as is the score by Benjamin Symons.

The small cast are good here. Frank Jakeman is solid as family patriarch Michael. A working class man by appearance with a strong sense of family, but with a secret of his own. Preston is endearing as his wife, Cassie, a woman struggling with illness and yet wanting a nice holiday with her family. Nadia Lamin is brave and resilient as daughter Lauren. Lee Hunter is fine as their meek son Eric, as is Buddy Skelton as the youngest child, Ben. Ward and Loxley make appropriately sinister villains as the possessed Jack and Lucy. Having a likable family unit and effective villains also helps this flick work despite familiar story elements.

Overall, this flick may not be perfect, but does deliver some chills and thrills. It’s well directed by the duo of Leader and Oakes and only stumbles a little when some long dialogue spots slow down it’s spooky momentum. An effective little horror from a pair of filmmakers to keep an eye on.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) hammers!

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