HostsHosts has done good ideas and a couple solid scenes, but ultimately it suffers the fate of a confusing mythology and a lack of focus.
Written and directed by Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, Hosts is a Christmas horror. It starts with Jack (Neal Ward) running into friend Michael (Frank Jakeman) who also happens to be in a Santa suit. Jack then goes home to girlfriend Lucy (Samantha Loxley) before they head to Michael’s for Christmas dinner. Rather, that was the plan before something took over their bodies and now light projects from their mouths and eyes. They still head over for dinner, but with a mission.
What that mission is happens to be a little murky. We now know this young couple are not quite human, and they want to likely spread something around, but the goal of this dispersion is unclear and the method of spreading is even less clear. Their own submission to the light up infirmity was off screen, but it still does not seem to align with whatever they are trying to do in Michael’s home.
Despite the lack of cohesion in their behavior and mission, Lucy and Jack get a fair bit of mayhem accomplished. The Holiday dinner starts good enough, but soon there is a violent outburst and the rest of the family is left scrambling and hiding for their lives. To them, it does not really matter than they do not know what they are up against. What they do know is that they are terrified.
Here is where the crying comes in. Emotions certainly have their place in horror films, and horror film would be ineffective without empathy, but there is so much crying and talking through crying in Hosts. It is as if the emotions go from zero to bawling in nearly every scene, and then stay on the weeping for the entirety of the scene. Showing characters caring about one another is important, but this much crying is tedious and distracting.
The few things that do work in Hosts happen to work quite well. The chemistry between Jack and Lucy feels natural. Both Ward and Loxley give excellent performances when we are able to see them interacting with one another as their human selves. There is an intimacy there that does not feel staged in the slightest. Also, the violent outburst at the Christmas dinner table is hilarious, perfectly timed, and one of the best on-screen deaths of the season. I just wish the performances and sense of humor or ruthless violence carried throughout the rest of the film.
Hosts lacks internal logic, suffers from uneven tone and puzzling emotional beats, but at least there is one damn fine kill in it . Not ever horror film gets to claim that.