STREAM QUEEN: the terror of technology

Will you want to get off social media, put down your phones, close your laptops, and stay away from the cyber world after this foursome? Let’s find out.

HOST (2020)

This Shudder exclusive is the one everyone has been talking about online because it focuses on a group of friends that can’t get together due to quarantine, so they decide to Zoom a séance.

More like a DOOM séance. I wouldn’t do a séance with 10 friends in the same room with me, let alone in the dark by myself with just my friends’ faces in Hollywood Squares formation on my computer screen.

Just like Paranormal Activity, this one psyches you out, only now you’re constantly looking at the background of six screens in anticipation of something terrifying in the shadows. Eek.

Since this is a short 54 minutes long, there’s some brief setup before the spirits begin freaking out the friends (all girls). Every effective found footage trick in the book is utilized to keep you on the edge of your seat for the rest of the film.

My only disappointment is that the final jump scare is delivered just as I expected. So cliché. Yeah, cliché, I knew it was coming, blah blah blah…and my hubby still had to peel me off the ceiling.

COUNTDOWN (2019)

Countdown feels perfectly like a throwback to early 2000s supernatural horror flicks that focused on pretty young people being pursued by an evil entity, with plenty of jump scares, a creepy specter, some great suspense moments, and likable characters.

Somewhat similar to Final Destination in general concept with a more modern twist, it’s about a nurse who starts to believe an app that predicts when you will die has killed one of her patients and his girlfriend.

After testing out the app and getting a countdown reminiscent of the “seven days” call in The Ring, she starts to see quick flashes of a dark figure that looks like something out of Darkness Falls, and then meets a really hot dude who used the app as well.

Together they must race the clock to put a stop to their deaths. They even team up with a quirky, comical priest.

Pure popcorn movie fun, this one is immediately being added to my collection for its retro vibe.

RECOVERY (2016)

I totally can’t remember the name of it, but I blogged about a similar movie in the last year about kids who track their missing phone down to a house where trouble awaits. Recovery combines the “find my phone” app concept with a house inhabited by a psycho family…in the middle of the suburbs!

During a graduation party, a young woman befriends another girl and they decide to blow off the party and go clubbing. They bring along the guy she likes and her brother.

After some harrowing encounters on the “wrong side of town”, one of them goes missing with the main girl’s new phone, and they track it to a house of horrors—or at least of horrible people.

It’s not the most original film and it takes a while to get going, but the suspense scenes are tight, and there are a few freaky surprises along the way.

However, the biggest surprise of all is ridiculously obvious from the start if this isn’t your first time ever seeing a horror movie…

LIVE (2018)

While not delivering much in the way of traditional horror, this film about a woman of color being abducted on Facebook Live is eerily timely in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests against police brutality around the U.S.

The opener grabs you right away as we see a masked figure beating a bound woman on video.

The film focuses on an investigation into the disappearance of a woman named Linda Johnson, and it’s presented through Linda’s video footage, surveillance footage, and interviews with family and friends. There’s also video of an “anonymous” hacker attempting to lead a viral movement to bring justice for Linda and point out societal disinterest in justice for people of color.

The film feels very real in that the actress playing Linda is quite genuine in her at first mundane live feed footage for social media; she talks about everyday aspects of her life, makes pop culture references, etc.—the usual ridiculous crap that somehow makes talentless people viral video stars.

But then we get to see darker moments in Linda’s life—difficult situations that have pushed her to make some bad decisions. It most definitely takes too long to get to the major theme of the film, and the subject matter will definitely polarize viewers exactly the way the Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter divide has in reality.

The only problem I had with this unique presentation of the issues is that it doesn’t quite deliver the chilling effect it’s going for because it holds back too much on enveloping its social commentary in an effective horror movie.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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