1 Sept 2021
Sara Canning, Osric Chau, Gracie Gillam, Barbara Crampton
The weird and wonderful world of vlogging gets a horror twist in this 2021 film from filmmaker Brandon Christensen. Sara Canning and Osric Chau star as vaguely famous travel vloggers who are looking to surge their YouTube channel’s following after a dip in their subscribers.
They rock up at a secluded house in the woods and are greeted by host Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), whose wide-eyed enthusiasm and offbeat personality is the first red flag. It’s not long before this vacation becomes a slaycation that no online community can obstruct.
Superhost is economical with its elements. Limited locations, a very small cast, and efficient set pieces allow the movie to not shoot for the stars and miss by a long way. Instead, it’s taut and knows when to revel in the intensity of Rebecca’s insanity. The narrative is also proficiently expanded with subplots about the couple’s future, with Canning obsessing over their numbers and Chau planning a surprise proposal. Furthemore, the pair face a crucial dilemma as to whether they will risk their integrity in order to appease the fickle needs of their online audience which may well risk their relationship and safety. The vapid nature of online celebrity and it’s insincere characters is ironically explored by Christensen here.
Barbara Crampton plays a small role in the film and is woefully underused, the film perhaps missing out on a golden opportunity for her to play the host. That being said, GIllam proves chops-full as the volatile hostess with the mostess, shouldering the film’s most tense scenes and injecting a wonderful amount of charisma into the proceedings. Something left a little lacking from the central duo. Their chemistry is off and whether this is done to reflect the storyline or not, it makes for sluggish viewing. There is a by-the-numbers approach to their journey through the clearly worrying situation they are in which prevents any real investment by the audience.
The condemnation of the internet’s capricious nature is the most compelling aspect of Superhost and perhaps the form of a holiday horror was not the right fit. There are some genuinely interesting aspects to the characters which could have easily been transplanted into a different narrative, or even a different genre, and the result would perhaps have been more engaging. With some better casting and a little more ambition with the filmmaking, this could have been a Cabin in the Woods ordeal, instead it’s barely an ordeal.