Friday, September 24, 2021

Superhost (2021)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Superhost (2021)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Superchill, Shudder
Director: Brandon Christensen
Writer: Brandon Christensen
Actors: Sara Canning, Osric Chaus, Gracie Gillam, Barbara Crampton
Blurb from IMDb: With their follower count dwindling, travel vloggers Teddy and Claire pivot to creating viral content around their most recent "superhost," Rebecca, who wants more from the duo than a great review.

Selina’s Point of View:
Throughout the past couple of months, I’ve been hearing about two horror movies over all. Both are a part of Shudder’s September line-up. The first was Martyrs Lane (2021), which Cat reviewed on the 8th. This is the other. 
To say there’s been buzz about Superhost would be an understatement. I like to stay away from film reviews until after I’ve seen the project, but that was incredibly difficult this time. Despite that, I don’t think it colored my opinion here in the slightest.
Superhost was worth the hype.
Sara Canning (Nancy Drew, An Awkward Balance, Z) and Osric Chau (Supernatural, The Flash, Circle of Bones) felt like a natural couple. They acted one way on film for their channel, and were completely different off-camera. I think a lot of fans forget that, most of the time, vloggers are putting on a show. In fact, a lot of movies based around internet personalities tend to push that narrative by showing people acting the same way in both situations. The way it was handled here just felt more real.
As much as the main actors made me feel for their characters, though, they did not hold a candle to the antagonist.

Gracie Gillam (Tales of Halloween, Z Nation, Teen Beach 2) was perfect for her roll as the creepy host. At first, it looked a touch like overacting, but I’m certain now that was by design. Every time she was on screen my skin crawled, as if I was looking at something unnatural. If they had cast anyone else in her role, I do not believe Superhost would have the same level of buzz as it does now.
I’ll admit that a lot of the scares did fit into the ‘jump’ category, and there were parts that were pretty predictable, but none of that subtracted from how much I enjoyed Superhost.
Come to think of it, the fact that there were some predictable parts, actually made the ending more shocking. It was as if writer/director Brandon Christensen (Z, Black Ice, Still/Born) opted to lean hard into one specific trope, just to make sure he could erase any expectations outside of it. It was an effective choice.
I’d say Superhost is in my top 5 horror films of the year so far.
If you don’t have Shudder, this is a reason to subscribe.

Cat’s Point of View:
Superhost definitely struck a chord with me as I was putting together our Top 20 Movies Coming Out In September article. I’ve been waiting to experience these vlogger shenanigans with great antici…pation. (Hey, it’s almost October. I couldn’t resist.)
The concept of blending a vlogger channel, vacation rental reviews, and a horror movie isn’t something that’s been rehashed into the ground yet. I loved the fact that it felt fresh, and I’m generally down for some comedy on the side with my thrills and chills. The trailer for Superhost seemed to promise quite the entertaining package.
I’d have to say, it delivered.

Superhost certainly took me on a ride from being a squirmy and uncomfortable voyeur into what seemed like a relationship held together with gum and paperclips (or in this case, likes and subscriptions?) into the insanity of the over-the-top rental host. There were moments I laughed, and others that I could only blink at the screen as I shared the ‘WTF’ reaction the vloggers were having.

The soundtrack as well as the remote and singular setting worked in tandem to build up tension as events unfolded. I found myself in the vlogger’s shoes with my pulse pounding. Curse my silly nature of being easily startled. (It’s the bane of my existence really – something my family takes advantage of all the time, to my dismay.) I did manage to hold in my urges to fuss at the screen, or yelp when I jumped in the few places it happened. The temptation was there, however.

All the same, I didn't care that parts were predictable. Some elements of predictability feel comforting, in a way, when you're watching a scary movie. It makes deviations from the expected that much more jarring. 
Superhost proved to be excellent quality for a lower-budget film and held my attention well. I wasn’t tempted to fiddle with my phone once. The acting was on point, and they really capitalized on the location both with the house and landscape.
If you’re looking for a dark horror-comedy to warm you up for the spooky season ahead, Superhost would be a great pick. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 65%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Apocalypse Rising (2018)

Streaming Service: Paramount+
Movie Name/Year: Apocalypse Rising (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Giant Meteor Films, Rathe Productions, Gravitas Ventures
Director: Richard Lowry
Writer:  Gregory P. Wolk
Actors: Hunter Alexes Parker, Shane Samples, Justin Lebrun, Johanna Rae, Victoria Steadman, James R. Frey, Kelly Brown, Shiah Luna, David Namminga, Ketalyn Levario, Dennis Marin, John R. Mangus
Blurb from IMDb: They came from a doomed world to save us from the same fate.

Selina’s Point of View:
Apocalypse Rising is a low-budget B-movie, so I’ll be comparing it only to other films like it. Fish can’t climb trees, after all.
The thing that drew me to this movie was the plot. The mix of undead horror and hard sci-fi, at least in this context, is not something I’ve ever seen before. Aliens coming from a warring planet only to find Earth in the process of starting a zombie apocalypse? I knew it was risky, but I was so here for the idea.
What makes a B-movie good is not necessarily quality. It’s when the flick is fun to watch. Either because it’s over-the-top ridiculous – like Sharknado (2013), super relatable to at least one group – like The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (2008), accidentally funny – like The Wicker Man (2006), or because it’s so bad it’s good – like The VelociPastor (2018). Are any of them the kind that people would spend 20 bucks to see in theaters? Of course not. But they make for good watching with a group of friends and a bucket of popcorn.

Luckily, Apocalypse Rising didn’t take itself too seriously. I found it watchable, actually. It could have been as good as Starship Troopers (1997), but there were a few missteps. The most glaring of which was the sex scenes. I could have done with about 87 less of them. It might have made the flick come in at just around an hour long, but it also would have wound up being good enough to have that possibility of cult status.
I do believe that Apocalypse Rising dips a toe into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. It walks the line a little closer than I’d prefer, but I don’t regret watching it. I did have some fun.
It’s absolutely not for everyone. As mentioned, there are WAY too many sex scenes (even if they are more parody than porn), there’s a lot of over-the-top acting, and one-note characters. If I was comparing Apocalypse Rising to a bigger film, it would not make the cut. For what it is, however… it was a lot better than most. It had a decent story, and I liked the ending. It was unique.
Apocalypse Rising could make for some funny watching for a friends-night-in or a zoom-movie-call. Just make sure to bring your sense of humor. Don’t take it too seriously.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Movie Trailer: