Directors/Writers: Adam Leader & Richard Oakes
Producers: Gillian Williams, Craig Hinde
Production Co: Dark Fable Media, Odin’s Light Motion Pictures
Length: 92 mins
Film Rating: 18
Review Rating: 3/5
Following a lengthy and successful crowdfunding campaign, production company Dark Fable Media have released Hosts, an independent horror film set on Christmas Eve and was awarded the Best Death Award by Total Film magazine after premiering at FrightFest 2020.
Writers and directors Adam Leader and Richard Oakes came together to create this mix of psychological trauma, gore, and spiritually driven melancholy after years of working together in making horror media that has garnered a big following online.
Beginning on the night before Christmas, a young couple, Jack and Lucy (Neal Ward, Samantha Loxley) become possessed by an unknown entity that has them under its grasp when they pay a visit to their friend Michael (Frank Jakeman) and his family that evening. Whilst celebrating the time of peace and goodwill to all men, the possessed couple begins an onslaught of bloodshed and murderous insanity killing Michael’s beloved wife Cassie (Jennifer Preston) and kidnapping his sons Eric and Ben (Lee Hunter, Buddy Skelton) and daughter Lauren (Nadia Lamin).
As the night progresses, we see Lauren thrown into a life-or-death situation in have to decide whether or not to shoot Eric with her father’s shotgun, teenage Ben being subject to a traumatizing fable about revenge on a greedy patriarch, and Michael having to reveal a dark secret that has motivated the vengeful powers possessing Jack and Lucy.
In trying to survive the evil takeover of her own home, Lauren witnesses multiple deaths and retains her sanity long enough to kill off the perpetrators, before escaping with Ben. This isn’t a typical survival horror like a Resident Evil game or a blood-soaked slasher flick, the charm of this movie comes from a combination of horrors which told me the guys behind Hosts were keen horror lovers.
Overall, I a casual horror viewer found this film to be ok in terms of gore and horrifying human behaviour, plus the use of religious and pagan imagery certainly kept me intrigued, though it was the clunky script that kept me from seeing it as more than average.
References to spiritualism, local mythologies, and how the modern world is destroying such beauties through things like fracking definitely made me smile. However, the backstory to why the spirit has played host to Jack and Lucy and its vengeance on Michael’s family seemed a little rushed at the end. I know horror is good when the reason for ghoulish happenings is kept to the end, though I felt there wasn’t much in terms of mystery to suit my personal palate.
I’m not saying this is a bad film at all, it packs in multiple punches that would make me recommend it to my horror-loving friends, but I don’t think I’d give it another viewing. If you like your horror rooted in mythologies, family tragedies, or the anxieties of the unknown, check out Hosts.