Film, Writing

Film Review: HOST (2020)

Found footage is my favourite genre of horror. Truth be told, horror isn’t my go to genre generally when it comes to film, and I appreciate purists may baulk at a movie like Host, but it’s catnip to me.
Host appears to have caught the imagination of the huddled masses this summer, starved as they are of new content for the most part thanks to the Covid-19 enforced lockdown. It has been trending across social media for a few weeks. It is in pride of place on horror streaming service Shudder. It even was featured in a segment for The Economist, appearing on its daily podcast The Intelligence (which I heartily recommend for a current affairs snapshot), which is where I first heard about it strangely. Not in the pages of Fangoria or even something as highbrow as Sight & Sound, but rather a publication dedicated to examining society through the lens of economics. It could appear a bizarre fit but it perhaps suggests that projects such as Host, and the found footage lineage they are part of, can often serve as a financial boon to the horror genre, and can break out into the mainstream, as it appears Host has done.
What Host certainly does, even if in a relatively minor way, is continue the tradition of found footage not just in the world of lockdown but also within an advancing age of interactive technology used for day to day communication.
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2000 in Film, Film, Writing

SCARY MOVIE: a post-modern horror spoof without any post-modern wit (2000 in Film #26)

This year, 20 years on from the year 2000, I’m going to celebrate the first year of cinema in the 21st century by looking back at some of the films across the year at the turn of the millennium which took No #1 at the box office for their opening weekends.

This week, released on the weekend of July 7th, Keenen Ivory Wayans’ Scary Movie

All through watching Scary Movie, a film I missed twenty years ago the first time around, I kept thinking as I sat, largely stone-faced and more than a bit repulsed… would 18 year old Tony have found this funny?

The answer is, honestly, yes. Probably. 18 year old Tony found Road Trip, which we discussed earlier this summer, very funny at the time. It certainly isn’t as nasty as Scary Movie in its frat-boy comedy but it’s just as base, obvious and cheap. Both of these films are aimed, squarely, at youthful or teenage audiences who are rewarded by cheap laughs. However, Scary Movie comes from a different stable. Road Trip is an extension of the post-modern revival of the teen sex comedy. Keenen Ivory Wayans’ spoof harkens back to the Zucker Brothers or Mel Brooks brand of cinematic spoof, in this case directly lampooning the modern horror genre, particularly the post-modern horror genre made up of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, with a few other examples sprinkled in.

In fact, Miramax—the production company behind Scary Movie—were already producing a Scream spoof when the film was written, and WGA arbitration gives the writers of that other script credit here given the ideas were undoubtedly fused together to make what would become Scary Movie. The targets are primarily recent examples of the horror movie inversion, the meta-textual examination of horror tropes, characters and narratives which earlier this year remained still in evidence with Scream 3, which was derided (perhaps unfairly) for taking the concept to the max and making films within films, examining Hollywood within that spectrum. It was perhaps both too soon for a spoof like Scary Movie and exactly the right time, given the sizeable box office take that would lead, over the next fifteen years, to four sequels.

Here’s the thing, though. Scary Movie is terrible. Not just terrible, but *horrible*, and considering it so desperately wants to ape Airplane or Hot Shots etc… it is, despite being younger than those films, infinitely already much more dated.

Continue reading “SCARY MOVIE: a post-modern horror spoof without any post-modern wit (2000 in Film #26)”