I don’t normally go in for a mystery/horror/crime film and, believe me, I had my doubts during the first 20 minutes or so of THE HOST. You have Robert Atkinson your normal down on his luck young person with a dead-end job (for any Star Trek Enterprise fans, you may recognize his boss), dating a married woman while also dealing with gambling problems. I had a feeling that the story would revolve around one of those aspects of his life and luckily it was the latter. I mean, who doesn’t want to make “friends” in a Chinese gambling den when you just lost all your money?
British director Andy Newbery brings to you a very Hitchcockian tale in THE HOST. It follows Londoner Robert Atkinson (Mike Beckingham) who loses all he has and more in one day. After reflecting on what just happened, he is offered a deal from a shady Chinese fellow who offers to take care of all his debts. Knowing he ran out of resources he agrees, though not fully understanding what he is in for.
From here we follow Robert to beautiful Amsterdam. You feel as if you yourself traveled with him thanks to the brilliant camerawork and location shots. Truly the first 45 minutes features some of the most beautifully filmed shots I have seen in some time.
After arriving in Amsterdam, he attempts to check in to his B&B (which is also a burger joint) only to find it is overbooked. However, another friend he has made takes him to the home of Vera Tribbe. Vera lives alone with her father and we come to learn that they are one of the most powerful families in Amsterdam. Vera is a courteous host and Amsterdam native Maryam Hassouni truly steals the show from her. Her performance is mesmerizing and shows true skill, reminiscent of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.
Once settled in, Robert begins to know Vera intimately, some may even say he gets too close. His concern for her relationship with her father may be over the line. The layers to this story will keep you guessing on who to trust and who is hiding what. The internal shots follow the very Hitchcockian style with beautiful lighting and lots of vertigo angles that make you feel uneasy; always having to adjust your mind to prepare for the next shot.
After going missing, Robert’s brother, Steve Atkinson (Dougie Poynter) must find him before things get even worse for his whole family. With the help of some unlikely allies, he delves into the web his brother has weaved eventually finding himself engulfed in the nest of a possible femme fatale.
THE HOST is a wonderful mix of Hitchcock and the movie Hostel. Though it starts slow, the payoff is worth the wait if you enjoy a movie that covers you in a blanket of atmosphere and feeds you spoonfuls of mistrust. The acting is trivial compared to the sheer tension that director Andy Newbery manages to build in only a few locations. With breathtaking cinematography, authentic locations, constant turns and a leading lady who delivers, THE HOST has made me a fan of this type of subgenre of horror and I look forward to other films from Andy Newberg. THE HOST will be available to rent or own on all major VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Microsoft Movies and TV and Fandango Now on April 17th, 2020.