This weekend on streaming, horror fans can find themselves being scared silly by ... Zoom backgrounds?
Shudder, the horror-focused streaming service, has debuted a new 56-minute horror film called Host, which takes place entirely on Zoom and was made from quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. Following a group of six friends whose weekly Zoom call turns dark when they decide to conduct a seance, the movie was "conceived, shot and edited in 12 weeks," and it came together after a video of 28-year-old director Rob Savage pranking his friends on Zoom went viral back in April, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
With this incredibly fast timeline in mind, critics say the end result works surprisingly well. Host currently holds a 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews, with The New York Times saying Savage "finds a surprising amount of ingenuity" in the premise, while Pajiba says that it's a "satisfyingly scary picture," The Guardian says it's a "genuinely effective little chiller," and the Austin Chronicle dubs it "one of the most brutally innovative horrors of the last few years."
Not only was the film produced during the pandemic, but it incorporates the coronavirus crisis into its plot, and RogerEbert.com writes that it's "nice to see that the first horror movie to specifically address our present hellish circumstances is as unpretentious and tidy as it is."
Host is just the latest horror film to take place entirely on computer screens after movies like 2014's Unfriended and 2013's The Den, though given how well this particular project seems to have worked out despite coronavirus production shutdowns, one can only assume many more like it will be on the way. As the subgenre expands, though, topping the horrors of a particularly boring Zoom meeting at work may remain too great a task.