[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Host.]
How good is the new Shudder release, Host? As a big fan of screenlife storytelling, I’ll always have high hopes that the format is loaded with potential, but there’s no denying that it’s an especially challenging format to pull off. Throw in the fact that Host was made during lockdown and there’s really no denying that director Rob Savage and his team really had their work cut out for them with this one. But, you know what? They wound up knocking it out of the park.
That being said, you can probably imagine how thrilled we were to have Savage on the latest episode of The Witching Hour. Haleigh and I couldn’t wait to dig into the details on the development and production process, but we also went heavy on mythology and one particular thing Savage brought up in that department could change how you view the movie. Given the fact that Teddy (Edward Linard) left the call before Jemma (Jemma Moore) told that lie about Jack, would he have been safe if he never called back in or did joining the Zoom call in the first place already seal his fate? Here’s what Savage had to say:
“Well, there’s two schools of thought here. I think one thing and my co-writers think another thing. Basically, on the face of it, he would have been fine, he would have had a lovely night unless he had come back because, you know, the transgression was Jemma making up the story about Jack. That allowed something to come into this world and wreak havoc. But, we also wanted this idea that Haley being a character who has performed lots of seances in the past, might already have something kind of lingering in her apartment, might already have something attached. And she might have inadvertently brought it in, and just by the medium kind of conjuring this psychic connection between the lot of them, that might be the thing that allows it to kind of feed on their collective summoning and start to manifest.”
I was very tuned into the idea that this was all Jemma’s fault by dishing out that lie, but that take on Haley’s (Haley Bishop) possible connection to some entity certainly makes sense, especially when you also add in this deliberate sound decision:
“If you listen as you go through, there’s actually a kind croaky, weird back-of-the-throat, croaky, crackly interference sound that we use every time the demon starts to show its influence, and we do actually play that sound at the very beginning in Haley’s apartment. So there is this idea of like, there’s something there already, just waiting.”
But back to Jemma being the one to blame here. That whole idea is actually connected to a concept that really exists beyond the mythology of the movie – a Tulpa. Savage further explained:
“It’s like a demon that’s summoned by group think, so the idea is, if everyone pictures the same image in their head, you can actually make something manifest, just by this shared imagining. So the idea is that as Jemma, when they’re in this hyper connected state, she tells them this story of Jack, she places this image of the hanged boy in all of their heads. That allows this thing to manifest and we kind of played all the scares as though this demon is using the image of Jack almost to mock them and to toy with them, so there’s all thing hanging iconography. But in our minds, it was the demon rubbing their noses in it and towards the end, that last shot … you see it’s like half human, but it’s sort of transforming into something more demonic. It’s kind of like its skin is ripped away to reveal something more demonic, so the idea is it’s doing away with the Jack facade and if the call hadn’t cut off there, you might have seen a bit more of what this demon actually looks like.”
If you’re eager for more from Savage after catching Host (like I am), you’re in luck because he’s been busy teasing a follow-up project. It’s not going to be the same as Host, but Savage hopes it makes a somewhat similar impression:
“I think the way we’re gonna come at it is we’re not even gonna try and replicate that feeling in Host. That feeling came so much out of a group of creatively frustrated people in the middle of lockdown trying to do something cool, letting lockdown fuel our creativity in this way that you just couldn’t replicate. And you certainly couldn’t replicate it if you’re coming at it in a cynical way to try and do a sequel. Our approach is really to do something totally different that still touches on what’s going on and the problems inherent to this point in time and how we’re dealing with our current situation and why things have snowballed the way they have. It’s a whole different kind of approach to this same point in time. And it’s probably not gonna be as immersive. It’s probably not gonna be as recognizable to everyone but I think it’s gonna be different enough that certainly I haven’t seen anything like it. As a horror fan, I’d be excited to watch it. I’d login and watch it on the first day it appeared on Shudder, so that’s as good a metric as we can come up with. All I can say is, we’re super excited about it and we have the same feeling that we had when we started on Host and if that can carry through then I’m hoping that it’ll land in the same way that Host has.”
Can’t wait for this next Rob Savage film? Why not check out one of his shorts? You can watch his award-winning short film, Dawn of the Deaf, right here.