There are those movies that stick with me; those I like well enough during my first watch yet, in the glow of the morning after, I end up really liking. Take Superhost. It’s a small movie – set mostly in one location – with a simple plot and a tiny cast, and it plays that to its advantage. More so than I initially gave it credit for. And the actors – particularly Gracie Gillam – throw in a performance tour de force.
The premise: Two YouTubers host a decreasingly popular channel focused on visiting Airbnb-superhost rentals. For their next stay, they find a host who is abnormally keen on getting a good review, possibly because the duo gained some notoriety panning a property into closing down. (Owned by Vera, portrayed by the eminent Barbara Crampton.) How far is host Rebecca willing to go to get a positive review? Or not to get a bad review? And why is the toilet clogged?
Yes, the latter is a plot point.
Superhost falls squarely into the thriller-comedy sub-genre. There is a nineties je ne sais quoi to the off-kilter-host narrative. Still, Gillam injects a significant dose of modern comedy into her performance. She’s creepy in a quirky kind of way – hosts Claire and Teddy (Sara Canning and Osric Chau) are unsure what to think – and I’m fairly sure she doesn’t blink once during the film’s eighty-four-minute runtime.
Had the vloggers had any sense, they would have run. You don’t want an Airbnb with cameras installed in every room, especially when Rebecca speaks through them. Yet, Claire cannot get past her dwindling subscriber base, and she is willing to go a long way to regain the viewership.
And much as Rebecca is the antagonist in this scenario, I can’t help but root for her. Maybe it’s because of Gillam’s portrayal. or maybe it’s because I find Claire and Teddy’s brand of YouTubers incorrigible. Likely it’s a mix of the two.
Either way, Superhost stays entertaining through to the end. I might have found the story a bit lacking in substance at first, but in hindsight, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Performances aside, the film benefits from its pacing, and there isn’t a dull moment within it. Superhost sets out to entertain, and it does so well. It’s rare for me to want to go back and rewatch any movie these days, but here is an exception.
Sometimes it’s OK to lean in on some macabre fun. Superhost fits that bill perfectly.
Letterboxd summary: Two travel vloggers check into a vacation rental with a host that will do anything for a good review.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||5/6|