Dir. Adam Leader & Richard Oakes (2020)
A family invites two neighbors in for Christmas dinner and is forced to deal with ghosts of the past.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
WARNING: WHILE THIS FILM DOESN'T RISE TO OUR NORMAL STANDARD OF EXTREME CONTENT, THERE ARE A FEW SCENES WITH EXTREME GORE. BE WARNED.
I would have probably never even come across this movie had I not seen the director on Twitter, largely because I would have confused it with the similarly titled (and also excellent) film Host on Shudder, where this film can also be found. I would caution viewers to watch the film before reading, because it’s a relatively new film that should not be spoiled and should be watched with as little information about the proceedings as possible. As I said, I knew nothing about the film, which would usually deter me from watching. But boy, I’m glad I did, because Hosts is an excellently bloody “revenge?” movie with one of the most surprising scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Essentially a home invasion film with a twist, Hosts is about a family who invites the neighbors over for Christmas dinner and finding out that everything is not as it seems. The newcomers are possessed by mysterious lights that are roaming the countryside, and they force the family to confront their past sins.
This is a really nice Christmas dinner. It would be a shame if something happened to it.
Man, this movie is a ride. It’s excellently acted, beautifully produced, and every moment is going to leave you guessing what’s going to happen next. There’s a bit of foreshadowing from here to there, but a lot of it just comes out of nowhere in the absolute best way possible. Jack and Lucy (played outstandingly by Neal Ward and Samantha Loxley) are the neighbors with a secret, and while we are never completely privy to what this secret is, we are left with the stunning consequences of the father’s (Frank Jakeman) past actions that are visited upon the children. There are scenes of psychological torture which are almost unbearable, and the ability of the filmmakers to create tension after the scene-which-shall-not-be-named is astounding. There were scenes in this film that left me on the edge of my seat. It’s beautiful but heartbreaking, and you can’t help but feel that, no matter what the father did, it’s certainly not enough to deserve what comes next. It’s rare to come across a film with this level of both filmmaking and gore, as its usually one or the other, but I also don’t want to make it come across like the gore is the only thing driving the film. Most of the film is not gory at all, and there are so many parts that are unsettling without the slightest drop of blood. The script is fantastic, and the film is excellently paced as a whole as to remain not only interesting but tense. The film is dripping with potential metaphor, as even the title has multiple meanings within.
And dripping with blood. There’s that, too.
One thing I will caution: if you didn’t already know this about pretty much every film, completely ignore the audience reviews on iMDB. They’re ridiculous, absurd, and from people who simply don’t understand what they’re watching. At least, that’s the only thing I can read into their reviews. As George Carlin once said, if you think about how dumb the average person is, you have to realize that half of the people are dumber than that. While Hosts is certainly not a masterpiece on the scale of some horror films, it is an absolutely compelling film that is stellar work for first-time directors. It is a tad weak on explanation, but it explains enough that it doesn’t remove enjoyment from the film. It’s an impressive debut, and anyone watching who would give it a single star out of 10 simply does not know horror, film, or rating systems. Who this movie is for: Horror fans with a strong stomach, Indie film lovers, People who want a reason not to visit the family for Christmas Bottom Line: The payoff of this movie is not only better than most but might also be the best I’ve seen in a while. Stunningly directed with outstanding cinematography, this is the reason why more directors of photography should move into directing! The actors are brilliant, the story is compelling and quickly paced, and it will leave you wanting more in the absolute best way. My interview is coming soon with directors Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, so check that out, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!