HOST And The Cultural Relevance Of Found Footage, Facehugger Masks, And More!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Host And The Cultural Relevance Of Found Footage
- Image of the Week: Wanna Play?
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Game Over, Man
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Host And The Cultural Relevance Of Found Footage
By Mary Beth McAndrews
You’ve heard the familiar song and dance about found footage: it isn’t scary, it’s too prevalent, and you can’t see anything through the shaky camera. But to see found footage as just a collection of tired tropes is to dismiss a revolutionary style of filmmaking that is quick to adapt to the changing technological landscape. Filmmakers are able to creatively tell unique stories through handheld cameras, security footage, and webcams. They create fear not with CGI or elaborate effects, but with lingering shots of darkened doorways and quiet bedrooms. Found footage is all about tension and changing how the viewer watches a film, making the experience an active rather than passive one. Blink and you may just miss something.
In the time of COVID-19 and social distancing, the creativity of found footage is more liberating than ever. The style is easily tailored for solo filmmakers, or even remote filming, as seen with Michael Varrati’s short Unusual Attachment or Rob Savage’s Host.
Set during a Zoom call, Host features six friends holding a seance as an excuse to catch up, joke around, and drink. By this point in the pandemic, we are all too familiar with Zoom calls, and Savage has taken one of our few comforts and made it terrifying. Just like The Den’s approach to chatrooms, Host uses our connection through the Internet to weave a horrifying story that interprets our current cultural fears and anxieties.
The friends in Host chat about being lonely, wearing masks, and who is quarantining with who. The conversation is so relatable it makes you feel like you’re on the call, too, an empathetic connection that’s strengthened if you’re watching on your laptop. It weaponizes our sense of isolation, and, like Cloverfield after 9/11, uses found footage to capitalize on our fears of the virus and isolation.
Found footage films often take the most up-to-date objects of entertainment and turn them into objects of fear. Savage plays with his chosen medium, Zoom, by using silly filters and the ability to change your background as methods of terrorizing his characters. It’s seen in Paranormal Activity 4 as the Xbox Kinect reveals demons; in Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum as live streams and GoPros prove the existence of ghosts; in Followed as vloggers face the consequences of their overly exuberant online personas. These films delight in taking digital trends and interrogating them through the lens of horror.
Host is a shining example of the malleability of the subgenre, one that is quick to adapt to the rapidly-changing world of technology and continues to prove its value while the world is practicing social distancing. Found footage films are more than just shaky cams and jump scares; they are pieces of history that document and interpret the dangers that lurk beneath our creeping dependence on technology.
Mary Beth McAndrews is a freelance film critic, editor, and podcaster based in Washington, DC. She is also the co-host of Scarred For Life, the podcast devoted to exploring the films that traumatized the horror community as kids. She will defend found footage with her dying breath.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
JOHN CARPENTER, WEIRD WOMEN AND MORE
This Vanity Fair article explores how Black writers are using horror to combat hate and bigotry.
Rotten Tomatoes listed the top-rated horror movies of 2020 so far. Wait ‘till you see what placed at #1.
John Carpenter is set to deliver a masterclass in filmmaking and receive a lifetime achievement award at the upcoming virtual Fantasia Film Festival.
Courteney Cox will be returning as the iconic Gale Weathers for Scream 5.
Check out this excerpt from the introduction to Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers: 1852-1923.
We’re dying over this Scooby-Doo-inspired Friday The 13th cartoon…
…And can’t get enough of this “bad bitches in film” mash-up featuring horror legends from Us, Ready Or Not, Halloween, and more.
Megan Thee Stallion is in the process of writing a horror movie.
This deeply personal piece by Lena Wilson in The New York Times looks at the powerful impact of Jennifer’s Body.
Fans of Edward Scissorhands can live out their suburban fantasy in the actual Boggs family home, which is now up for sale.
The New York Times writes about Lovecraft’s legacy through shows such as the upcoming Lovecraft Countrywhile discussing his notorious bigotry.
THINGS WE LOVE
Game Over, Man
All other masks are obsolete now that we’ve witnessed the glory that is James Body’s leather facehugger mask from Pirate’s Leatherworks.