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‘Superhost’ review: Gracie Gillam stands out in smartly written horror

Affecting the review.

Superhost is a horror movie with plenty of influences. At times, it looks like found footage. The film is also another addition to the ever expanding “social media kills” subgenre. It even has a horror icon with Barbara Crampton. The movie may have familiar elements, but it is not derivative, however. It focuses on the horror and thriller aspects making more original than similar films.

Director Brandon Christensen has decided to take on the social media world of today in an interesting way. Superhost almost downplays this aspect of the plot. Obviously, the title will clue anyone in how integral it is to what is happening, but it never takes things over.  Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) are vloggers concerned about their dwindling subscriber numbers. This drives Superhost, but it is the events around it that take center stage. It is refreshing to see a film that is ostensibly about the internet but does not spend the majority of the time talking about followers and likes.

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This does not mean it is completely ignored. While there is no big blow up regarding someone only caring about what other people think of them, there is a nice twist on the idea. During a pivotal moment, Teddy begins recording without thinking which confuses Claire into believing something else is happening. It is smartly done and gets the point across. The parts of Superhost reminiscent of found footage are recordings made by Teddy and Claire. There is also a woman who is angry about a video they did.

That is the extent of it. Superhost is more about  giving in your face scares mixed with toned down commentary. Things do not get truly scary until the final act. At this point, the danger is real, social media has been all but ignored, and the bloody death toll keeps rising. Gracie Gillam carries the film as Rebecca, the eponymous host in the title. From her first appearance there is clearly something different about her. She has a spark that is wild and fun. She steals every scene in Superhost and has the best moments of the movie. 

Superhost is a fun movie that skewers social media in a way few other films have. While dependence on online opinion does play a part in the movie, it never goes beyond just that: a part. This gives the script time to focus on its story and characters. Things take a while to get going, but it is a lot of fun once it does. Gracie Gillam’s outrageous performance will erase any other doubts.

Superhost checks in to Shudder September 2

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