We’ve noted recently that critics (Vicious Fun) and influencers (Slaxx) make great killer-fodder in horror movies. There’s not much between them, really, except influencers have nothing to say and look great while critics have too much to say and look like butt. It’s because of their shared pugnacious qualities – narcissism, ambition and a misplaced sense of one’s own righteousness – that audiences delight in their misfortune.
So it’s clear what’s on the horizon when we meet Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning), influencer-critics of holiday rental properties with their own successful but waning YouTube channel, Superhost (also the name of this Shudder Original movie). They’re the good-looking face of tourism snark, pointing out the peculiar things you find in private rentals and poking fun at the hosts. Teddy, planning a proposal, thinks they’re in it for love; ruthless Claire seeks nothing but the smashing of like buttons. They meet their match in manic host Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), whose place in the woods is strangely full of security cameras, and who keeps popping up at inopportune moments.
Gillam plays her character for laughs – Cathy Bates in Misery as reimagined by Rebel Wilson – and the film’s fun first act suggests we’re watching a comedy. After that, the joke is on you, because the film quickly becomes a by-the-numbers rats-in-a-trap horror in which shifting motivations are revealed.
You suspect there’s an intention to show the sacrifices made when a person turns their life into content, the facile nature of online fans and the stresses of a world in which ordinary people are reviewed, rated and ranked for their endeavours every day by people with no apparent authority to do so. But it backfires, because the most entertaining part of the whole film is watching the episode of their YouTube show.
So, in the spirit of the movie, we’ll summarise in the manner of an Airbnb review: Our stay with Superhost started well, lovely area, great scenery, host charming, but the little details were lacking, there are major structural faults and there’s not much to see or do. Overall, we’d have been just as happy with a night in a Travelodge watching Psycho. PS I think I left my wash-bag, could you post it back to me, please? And probably don’t look inside it, please.
- Director: Brandon Christensen
- Starring: Osric Chau, Sara Canning, Gracie Gillam
- Release date: September 2 (Shudder)