The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - SUPERHOST | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - SUPERHOST

superhost review
A pair of vloggers rent a home hosted by a deranged young woman.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Brandon Christensen

Starring: Gracie Gillam, Osric Chau, Sara Canning, Barbara Crampton

superhost poster

Director Brandon Christensen's first two movies - Still/Born and Z - were old school thrillers that could well have been made in the 1970s or '90s. His latest feature, Superhost, is very much of its time however. If you tried to explain the concepts of vlogging and Air BnB to someone in 1975 or even '95 they'd probably look at you like you had two heads.

superhost review

Superhost revolves around exactly those two modern quirks. Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) are a couple of romantically involved travel vloggers. Well, truth be told, Teddy is significantly more romantically involved than Claire. He's secretly planning to propose marriage while they're staying at an idyllic home in the woods, which they plan to review for the next episode of their YouTube show. Claire seems more in love with their channel, and she's obsessing over their dwindling subscription numbers.

At said home in the woods they meet their host, Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), who is chirpy to a psychotic degree and has a mad look in her piercing blue eyes. She seems harmless enough, but when Teddy and Claire discover that she's monitoring them with CCTV cameras they don't decide to immediately pack up and leave. Rather they agree (reluctantly on Teddy's part) to make Rebecca the subject of their episode, hoping her insanity will draw in new viewers.

superhost review

Superhost is essentially a horror-comedy, but in this case the comedy gets in the way of the horror. Had this been played straight it might have served as an astute examination of how vloggers, and indeed their more respected cousins - documentarians- can exploit members of the public. Rebecca is clearly mentally ill, and at first she just seems like a lonely, socially awkward person with no filter. The film never really critiques Teddy and Claire as much as it really should though. Once the scale of Rebecca's psychosis is revealed it's impossible to sympathise with her, but I still found Claire the more relatably reprehensible of the characters here, as she clearly has no qualms exploiting someone else's mental issues for the sake of likes and subscriptions.

Horror stalwart Barbara Crampton pops up as a host whose business was ruined by a negative video review on Teddy and Claire's channel. The film never reveals the details of this however, so we're unsure if Crampton's host deserved the bad review or if Teddy and Claire went overboard for clicks (Claire constantly refers to it as being their most popular episode). Oddly, the film seems more critical of the homeshare hosting community than of influencers.

superhost review

The performances of the quartet keep us engaged, with Gillam going all out in crazy bitch mode and Chau likeable as the "final boy." But fans of Christensen's previous tight thrillers will be disappointed at how unfocussed the storytelling is here by comparison, and by the climax it all feels like a generic slasher that missed an opportunity for some satirical commentary on the lengths people are forced to go to make a buck in the gig economy.

Superhost is on Shudder now.

2021 movie reviews