Savannah Chess says Superhost boasts a wicked female antagonist facing off against a travel blogging duo in a bizarre popularity contest.
Privacy in an Airbnb is questionable at best, with hidden cameras and strange hosts being a very real fear that Brandon Christensen sheds light on in the Shudder Exclusive Superhost. With a similar premise to Dave Franco's The Rental (2020), the film is a bit predictable and lacks originality. However, its cheap thrills, gore, and incredibly diabolical villain provide enough entertainment to provide a thrilling rush.
The film follows travel bloggers and couple, Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning), adventuring from one vacation rental to another in search of a story that will bring them the highest views and revenue. From click-bait haunted houses to their own marriage proposal, the two are willing to vlog just about anything to achieve their next viral hit. With views dwindling and subscribers jumping ship, the YouTubers believe their saving grace is a beautiful, remote rental owned by “superhost” Rebecca (Grace Phipps). When Rebecca begins to prove more interesting than the vacation home itself, Claire insists they focus their efforts on her unhinged and troubling persona. It's not long before they discover that while they’ll do anything for good content, Rebecca will do anything for a good review.
Best known for her role in Disney’s Teen Beach Movie (2013), Rebecca is a total departure for Phipps, who delivers a shocking and outstanding performance in her horror debut. Rebecca is zany, comical, and frightening all at the same time. Her transition from an accommodating and sweet superhost to a maniacally laughing, wide-eyed maniac perfectly portrays a frighteningly unstable yet charming villain.
Teddy and Claire are probably two of the least likable protagonists that I’ve met. Difficult to root for and overall uninteresting, it’s hard to imagine that these two ever found fame on their channel. Apparently too busy bickering over account bans and upload speeds, the two remain oblivious to the several indoor surveillance cameras, a “Do Not Enter” sign on the basement door, and the various other red flags at every turn. While Teddy relays the very relatable line, “I’m not a hero, I’m a blogger,” I’m almost certain even a blogger would have exhibited at least minor survival instincts by the film’s conclusion. Chau and Canning give fine performances for the script they were given, but there’s no doubt Phipps steals the show.
Exceptional gore special effects are all that can be asked for in any adequate slasher, and Superhost made sure to deliver. In the third act, we are finally introduced to the real villain. It’s the only thing stopping this film from being fairly unremarkable. Despite an undeniably disappointing ending, the practical gore and quick thrills of the final scenes are well done. It wasn’t until this point that the film felt like a horror movie. There’s a notable cameo from You're Next (2011) and From Beyond (1986) star Barbara Crampton, who also has it out for the hopeful Youtube influencers.
A remote cabin, a vlogger losing views, a walk in the woods with a crazed stranger, and every other part of this film felt far too similar to Creep 2 (2017), and what I consider a much better film. While both films have captivating antagonists, Superhost is left lacking where Creep 2 excels. The film’s main characters are not nearly as likable, the plot is more predictable, and the ending has nowhere near the punch that Creep 2 manages to deliver.
Superhost wouldn’t have been nearly the spectacle it was if it weren’t for Phipps’ memorable performance. Predictable but fun, I’d recommend Superhost to anyone looking for a female villain and some flashy gore. With horror films set at an Airbnb are a popular setting, I have high hopes that Zach Cregger'sup-and-coming film Barbarian (2022) will provide a fresh take and the scares that Superhost fails to evoke.
Superhost is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.