CERT: 18 / PLATFORMS: APPLE TV, ITUNES, FANDANGO NOW, GOOGLE PLAY, PRIME VIDEO, MICROSOFT MOVIES, VUDU / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (USA); 21ST JANUARY (UK)
As we edge closer and closer to christmas season, we all can have a degree of uncertainty (this year especially) regarding plans but at least we won’t be in for the family christmas depicted in directors/writers Adam Leader and Richard Oakes’ new British horror Hosts - not to be confused with this year’s Shudder released zoom filmed hit Host from Rob Savage. ‘Tis the season to be jolly they often say, but on this night “Ho Ho Ho” turns to hell on earth, and as a result you have yourself a brutal unconventional christmas movie choice that is surely destined to get a cult following, alongside such dark twisted seasonal tales like Krampus and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.
The film sees a loving family invite their friendly neighbours Jack and Lucy (Neal Ward and Samantha Loxley) over for a traditional christmas dinner but things turn violent, as all is not as it initially appears. The set up is potentially simple and plays very much on that familiar fear of the unknown, that comes with inviting someone new over, especially for the holidays. However, the film wastes no time in setting the pieces in motion for a film that is far from a X-mas themed slasher and is more of a supernaturally tinged faith-influenced survival home invasion horror, with some Michael Haneke’s Funny Games levels of cruelty that test the psyches of its characters. But it is these acts that really create the effective overall aura of the film.
Gruesome, seat-edge and, oft, unpredictable. The contained British drama that initially builds succeeds in creating a grouping of likeable and believable characters, and at the cruellest possible point, the game begins, and leads to the impactful lashings of splatter horror built on religious allegory and mythology. The actual mythos the film introduces though, is more reliant on surrounding factors or background notes in the film, with exposition being expected but never coming, as Leader and Oakes allow you to come to your own conclusion as to who the villains are but the clues are there for you. This does mean that the film builds to more of a open conclusion than some might want but despite veering into some more fantastical territories, it never loses sight of its grounded family christmas gone to s**t concept.
The performances are great all round, with Frank Jakeman and Jennifer K. Preston being loving family figureheads, while Nadia Lamin and Lee Hunter get some emotional and moral dimensions to work with as two siblings pushed horrifically to their brink. And Neal Ward and Samantha Loxley excel in transitioning from cute couple to creep-tastic guests.
Hosts is a well made (Kate Griffiths and Kailey Walker’s make-up gets to really shine) Brit horror that uses a christian home as the perfect setting for this night of torture to play out, as christmas tradition is infested by vengeful entities intent on pain...and we don’t mean the in-laws!!
A ferocious alternative crimbo treat.