Courtesy RLJE Films

In SUPERHOST, Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) are travel vloggers who run a channel called “SUPERHOST” where they travel and share their experiences in and around vacation homes, and until recently, had become successful doing it. With a dwindling subscriber count, they find the perfect opportunity to create content that people want to see when they meet Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), the host of their most recent trip. Slowly they start to realize that something isn’t right with Rebecca, and as they investigate it further, they unlock a horrifying truth. She doesn’t just want a great review, she wants something far worse.

For the upcoming home release of Brandon Christensen’s SUPERHOST, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky conducted an email interview with Sara Canning, where they discussed how the isolated location helped influence her character, developing the dynamic between herself, Osric and Gracie, and what she would have done if she had been in the same position as Teddy and Claire.

To start things off, what initially drew you to the project?

Sara Canning: I read an early draft of SUPERHOST. I’d worked with Brandon Christensen before, on the film Z, and I knew this film would be a great time too. The contrast between the YouTube personalities and a stressed couple dealing with a strange vacation rental and host seemed fun to me.

How did the isolation of where you guys shot help inform your performance? Because the location, while gorgeous, does force that necessary isolation needed to stoke fear regardless of COVID.

Sara Canning: I enjoy working in isolated settings, no matter the genre. I enjoy a bit of a rabbit hole when I’m working. We had a great tight-knit cast and crew, which felt supportive and made for a lot of laughs. I’d say the isolated location influenced that aspect of filming a little more for me than fanning the fear required for the character. I have my own physical process for that.

How was it working with Osric and Gracie in developing the dynamic we see onscreen? Did you guys have room for improv at all?

Sara Canning: Osric and Gracie are both fantastic actors. We had a blast. Osric and I certainly delved into some improvisation with the YouTube videos. The ‘introduction to the house’ video is based on what Brandon had written in the script (and the cat room was definitely his idea,) but is almost entirely improvised to suit the actual house and the two of us playing with the YouTube personas.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was how relatable your character was. So many people don’t know how much work goes into creating content, and what creators sacrifice in the process. Many even go into debt for it. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Sara Canning: I’m glad you felt Claire was relatable. The reality of her relationship with Teddy was definitely the most challenging aspect of the film for me – finding moments of connection while always maintaining that looming drive/obsession with the success of their YouTube channel. Persistent maintenance of an online presence is a rather anxiety-inducing concept for me. I have social media but am fairly restrictive with myself about how often I use it and what I post, so Claire’s investment in content creation was a good stretch for my actor brain.

Courtesy RLJE Films

Another aspect is that level of consumer trust built between creator and audience. We don’t think much of it until the end of SUPERHOST when your character tries to inform the platform of what’s going on and it comes back to bite her. Can you talk about that?

Sara Canning: I think the end of SUPERHOST certainly has something to say about the nature of the influencer/audience relationship, and the attention spans we’re fostering with the sheer amount of content available to people. I think that it can seem a deeply engaged dynamic, but when it comes down to it, there is still inevitable detachment. A person might forgive a friend, but are they as likely to forgive an online entity? There is a somatic element missing when dealing with screens alone. The relationship can literally only go so deep.

Is there anything that you would like personally to discuss regarding the film or the character that hasn’t been brought up yet in interviews?

Sara Canning: I think playing Claire just reiterated for me how essential it is that we’re focusing more (or at least equally) on our real-life relationships than what we build online. That’s my personal philosophy and I think SUPERHOST supports that, deep down!

Sometimes I like to wrap with an odd question connected to the film. If you rented a house from someone, and the host started acting really weird and sus, what would you do?

Sara Canning: If I found myself in a similar situation to Claire and Teddy, my default would be intrigued about any oddball behavior on the host’s part. I would be so curious about Rebecca. But I don’t think I’d have stuck around as long as Teddy and Claire did. Let’s hope I’d be running for the hills before Rebecca really let loose.

 RLJE Films will release SUPERHOST on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray on February 1, 2022.

Sarah Musnicky
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