Superhost (2021) Documents Viral Youtube Blogger Horror
First Non-Festival Release: September 2, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Brandon Christensen
Writer: Brandon Christensen
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Sara Canning, Osric Chau, Gracie Gillam, Barbara Crampton
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Travel vloggers Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) arrive at their latest Airbnb style rental in the woods. Not long after arriving they meet their host, Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), an overly gracious yet certifiably odd woman. To boost their sagging follower count, they decide to lean into the craziness of their host and capture as much footage of her being herself thinking that will drive their fans wild. Soon they will learn that Rebecca is willing to do whatever she can to make their stay perfect. Or else.
Superhost is a largely enjoyable, if tonally jarring, vacation flick that doesn’t quite capitalize on its setup.
A different flavor of a story that’s been done before, Superhost relies heavily on its comedic pitch and strength of actors to carry the film. Both Osric Chau and Sara Canning play their parts well on an individual level, but as a couple never make it convincing. Beyond their videos, they have zero chemistry and even if it sounds like a cool concept on paper, it doesn’t work in the film. Oftentimes, they are on two separate pages, which may very well be what Christensen hopes to convey. It’s still off-putting when trying to understand their dynamic.
Gillam’s performance, however, is one that still stumps me. At times, she masterfully plays with the scenery and turns a phrase into something sinister while smiling brightly. Other times, she is distant and lacks conviction in her delivery. Rebecca is a wonderfully weird character, but she never really feels real. Her motivations seem shallow compared to other similar horror villains and she gets very little character development beyond odd moments here and there.
Truthfully, Superhost would have worked better as a short. It has good material, but it often gets stretched out way too thin for a feature film. A tonally jarring film, the comedy hits or misses depending on who is swinging and when. The jokes land when the cast are in duos rather than larger groups. It’s interesting to see this dynamic play out but the stilted dialogue and weird chemistry make it harder to get invested further. The explanation at the end which explains the events leading up to the film doesn’t feel satisfying given the number of opportunities it could have been avoided. It also takes more than a leap of faith to believe that it would play out like that. With a shorter film, it could end more credibly and with a much sharper message.
I can’t explain why but I do find the film very affecting. It quickens the pulse and easily gets you sucked into the action onscreen. Convincing transitions from found footage, handheld, and screen camerawork make the film more dynamic while leaning into the blogger in peril concept. I am a sucker for good social commentary, and while Superhost doesn’t go all the way there, it does capture the obsession follows, likes, and virality in a way that plenty of other contemporary social media horrors fail to do.
While neither a great or terrible film, Superhost manages to exceed expectations with its energetic and offbeat production. It is full of many tense and awkward situations that elevate the tension and draw real life parallels to those hosts that just seem too nice to be real. I feel conflicted with my score though. Superhost does have its moments as mentioned but there are too many holes in the story and technical issues in the film to call it a truly great film. To fans of more quirky horror comedies, Superhost will give you something to enjoy, whilst those on the lookout for more serious or strait-laced films I’d advise you to stay away. Anyway, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more horror in your life and check out Superhost if you’re looking for some dumb, horror fun.
Overall Score? 6/10