Superhost Review - A Cautionary Tale

Summary and Review of Superhost

Claire: Sara Canning Teddy: Osric Chau Rebecca: Gracie Gillam Vera: Barbara Crampton Director: Brandon Christensen Release: 2022

Superhost follows two social media influencers, Teddy and Claire (also romantically involved), who are losing subscribers for their travel vlog (Superhost) by the bucketload. This is having an adverse affect on their finances so, to try and up their game and get back on track, they take off for a break to a highly rated rental house where they plan to film a video that will make a splash and pull in the viewers again.

On arrival, the property looks like a dream but the couple is unable to enter the house as the access code doesn't work. Out of nowhere, Rebecca, their super friendly superhost, arrives to provide assistance. Over-enthusiastic and eager to please, Teddy and Claire think she is just a little eccentric. But as the narrative progresses Rebecca seems overly concerned about how her review might be affected by minor mishaps in the house, leading to unexpected interventions that become more bizarre and unwanted. Claire and Teddy realise they may have underestimated their host and their stay spirals into a bed and breakfast nightmare.

Billed as a horror comedy, the comedy elements are fewer than I expected, with more emphasis on the horror/thriller aspect but this is a nice little film that packs a big punch. The first two acts constitute the lighting of the fuse leading inexorably to an explosive finale, where things get really crazy. There are shocking twists and turns, unexpected incidents and jump scares that made me gasp, which I now know to be a feature of Brandon Christensen’s productions. Just when you think you know what’s going on, you realise that you don’t.

Christensen skilfully builds the narrative as we learn more about the characters. It's well scripted with great acting, from Canning’s bolshie Claire to Chau’s reticent Teddy to Gillam’s psychotic maniac. Gracie Gillam in particular draws on all her reserves to move through the gears from bubbly to panicky to terrifyingly unhinged. There's an appearance from scream queen, Barbara Crampton, who extracts every drop from her small role and the entire cast accelerate events towards the high-octane conclusion.

Part found-footage, part straight filming, the cinematography was great for the most part but some external scenes seemed over-exposed and out of focus which wasn't in keeping with the quality of the majority of the film. Overall, it’s well shot with smart camera angles and scene composition, underpinned with a score that generated atmosphere without being intrusive.

One could argue that  the film pokes fun at the influencer culture and the obsession with online ratings, although when your livelihood depends on this, it isn’t unreasonable to be concerned about your popularity. But our intrepid pair start to realise how much of their lives are spent on camera, and the extent to which this causes the boundaries between their business and personal lives to become blurred.

I really enjoyed this outing from Christensen and it takes a different path from his other films but his trademark jump scares and cinematography are all there. It’s 83 minutes of horrifying fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is definitely worth a watch.



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