“Years ago, a father and his family lived in a big bright house, and one day the father decided to invite some guests inside. Do you know how the story ends? They destroy everything he loves.”
It’s Christmas Eve and a family of five is excitedly getting ready for dinner as they wait for their neighbors, Jack (Neal Ward) and Lucy (Samantha Loxley) to arrive. The mother, Cassie, played by Jennifer K. Preston, is in the kitchen cooking while her husband, Michael (Frank Jakeman), and son, Eric (Lee Hunter) are in the living room watching TV and talking. Her very young son, Ben, played by Buddy Skelton, and adult daughter, Lauren (Nadia Lamin) are upstairs playing a board game.
You can feel Christmas in the air and the intimacy of this close-knit family as they laugh and play together. Just as dinner is being served, Jack and Lucy arrive, and though they seem a little off to the viewer, the family seems to take no notice of this. Maybe it’s because they are feeling peace and goodwill toward all. Maybe it’s because sometimes it’s easier to see what we want to see. Either way, their lack of attention to the change in their once sweet neighbors leads to a night of unspeakable horror. Will anyone in this family survive the night?
HOSTS (unfortunately titled due to the success of Rob Savage’s 2020 quarantine-based film, Host), is the Christmas-themed horror movie you didn’t know you needed. Neal Ward and Samantha Loxely hit all the right notes as Jack and Lucy. As the viewer, you’re made to care about them right from the start and really grieve for the couple they were before they become possessed. I have to especially commend Loxely for a role well played. She is absolutely terrifying in this film and continues to haunt me days after viewing. She looks positively gleeful leading up to one of the most violent and terrifying scenes in HOSTS.
The practical effects here are perfect and wonderfully cringe-worthy. In fact, the effects throughout the film were very well done and I was impressed by them and the acting. You know it’s a good film when you are taken out of real-life for a while and find yourself completely lost in the story and I thoroughly enjoyed the 89 minutes spent in horror and fear with Michael and his family.
HOSTS, written and directed by Adam Leader and co-directed by Richard Oakes, is now available on Digital and Video On Demand through Dark Sky Films.