Being a British-born horror writer, I like little more than a British horror movie to write about. Sadly, in my previous experience, the UK doesn’t tend to produce the best of the genre and has very few decent horror movies to speak of from recent years. That is until Hosts broke the mold, of course.
Set on Christmas day and against the backgrounds of rural Britain, Hosts focuses on a family dinner that soon becomes everything but Christmassy. While there’s an abundance of endlessly regurgitated horror tropes, the movie does hold some surprisingly creepy moments of its very own. The slow-burn pace slowly sets the scene and familiarises us with the few characters, while small hints of what is to come keep us watching until the explosive moment the movie really starts.
A typical British family invites the couple next door over for a family Christmas dinner. However, things start to take a gruesome turn as something seems more than a little off on their arrival.
Yes, that’s pretty much it. I admit, it’s not the thickest of plots but thankfully, Hosts doesn’t actually need much more of a story to deliver the chilling, gore-fest it does so well. There’s a little more to it than that but to write about it in any more detail would spoil the already thin veil that is Host’s premise.
I never recognized any of the cast of Hosts but that’s not necessarily to say there is no talent in the movie. In fact, the case is quite the opposite. Neal Ward and Samantha Loxley portrayed their characters (Jack and Lucy) to chilling effect. As the possessed pair reap their carnage throughout the English household, I couldn’t help but feel they were perfect for the blood-curdling characters. It’s the first time I have seen either performer but I’m really hoping to see them in more films during 2021.
Another notable performance in Hosts is that of Frank Jakeman as he steps into the shoes of Michael, the father of the unfortunate family. His portrayal of a family man seamlessly slips into one of a man of fear, despair, and often righteous anger at his family’s tormentors. Another notable performance and one of the three that held the movie together.
Christmas Carnage: Blood, Guts and a Sprinkle of Clichés
Hosts has something for every horror fan. The gore-element is strong throughout, while Jack and Lucy cast an ominous shadow of true psychological horror across the whole production. Admittedly, the evident lack of a decent budget does give distinct, early impressions of another drawn-out horror flick. However, these premature thoughts are soon diminished in one, unexpected dose of wow-factor that made me scare my cat when I nearly fell out of my chair.
From this moment on (don’t worry, you won’t miss it), Hosts is a whirlwind ride through a melange of gore, turmoil, and excellently executed psychological horror. Director, Adam Leader, shows a real prowess for conjuring a deep sense of trepidation in his viewers; which, when paired with the stellar performances from the lead actors, makes for some classic, unforgettable horror.
I won’t say Hosts is without its flaws, however. The start of the movie shows little promise, with a slow, crawling pace and the plot is thin, at best. Furthermore, aside from the three characters I mentioned, the acting is as wooden as Pinocchio’s nose. However, with all of this said, the majority of the cast and the direction of Leader outshines these wholly forgivable shortfalls. Making Hosts one of my favorite horror movies of 2020.