In the new horror film Host, a group of friends convene over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic to participate in an online seance. Evil forces are contacted. Things go wrong. Lots of screaming and terror ensues. Naturally, this meant the /Film crew had to do one thing: we had to meet up with the director, writers, and cast of Host for a real online seance. And record the whole thing so you could join in.

So now that you’ve had a chance to watch the cinematic version of an online seance gone wrong, join us as we team up with Los Angeles-based exorcist R.H. Stavis to light some candles, open our minds, and try to contact the dead over the internet. Spoiler alert: no one dies. At least not yet.

In the video below, you can watch /Film managing editor Jacob Hall and writers Chris Evangelista and Hoai-Tran Bui meet up online with Host co-writer/director Rob Savage, writers Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd, and actors Radina Drandova, Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, and Caroline Ward to re-enact the plot of their movie…but with less demonic interference. If you’re wondering why cast member Emma Louise Webb sat this one out…well, let’s just say that she’s been experiencing some unusual activity since making the movie and didn’t want to tempt fate. Seriously. We talk all about it during the course of the seance.

So, how did this experience impact the /Film crew? Let’s break it down.

Chris Evangelista

I don’t believe in ghosts, but, when it comes to the supernatural, I’m like Fox Mulder: I want to believe. In my younger days, my friends and I would seek out supposedly haunted locations in the name of ghost hunting. We never found anything. Over the years, I’ve taken similar steps to find some sort of proof of life after death and come up with nothing. So when the opportunity to partake in a seance with a professional exorcist, I was thrilled, even though some of my /Film colleagues seemed to be genuinely nervous.

I can’t say I experienced anything supernatural during the seance itself, but I did find it to be an altogether enjoyable experience. It was pleasant, and, unlike the events of the movie Host, there was nothing ominous or threatening. Instead, it felt like an altogether positive experience. Do I believe there were actual spirits present? No, I don’t. But again: I want to believe.

Hoai-Tran Bui

I am deathly frightened of ghosts. Of course, I’m deathly frightened of a lot of things, but ghosts have been at the top of that list for as long as I can remember. I can’t pinpoint an exact experience or story that made me believe in spirits, but as someone who grew up in an old, creaky house and has long had an overactive imagination, I know there’s nothing scarier than what you can’t see in the dark. So right off the bat, this was a terrible idea for me.

The thing is, I’ve never actually had a supernatural experience other than the ones I’ve dreamed up in my head when I wandered into the bathroom at night. So that old bitch, curiosity, got the best of me and I told myself that this is the one time that I could be part of a seance (and use work as an excuse). I was probably the one who started off the seance the most nervous, but our professional exorcist/medium R.H.’s friendly and frank demeanor eased me into the experience. It also helped that as a “secular” exorcist, her beliefs seem to draw from a lot of Eastern philosophies — reincarnation, etc. — which were familiar to me, and gave me an almost warm, homey feeling. But I was still on edge for most of it, driven by my paranoia that I would sense something, so I worry that I may have blocked out any actual positive spiritual experiences because of my fear.

Ultimately, the seance was a surprisingly wholesome and positive experience, and I was grateful that I felt absolutely nothing. Though I will say that I tossed and turned a little over the next few nights, terrified that if I opened my eyes and looked over my shoulder, I might see something there.

Jacob Hall

I stepped into this seance from an unusual position: I’m not a spiritual person, but I have gone on public record about believing in ghosts. Weird, I know. During the course of my time at /Film, I’ve tempted the odd, the occult, and the unusual on several occasions. I attended a satanic ritual in conjunction with The Witch. I stayed in a haunted hotel room while doing press for Doctor Sleep. So an online seance with the cast of a movie about an online seance? Par for my particular course. In fact, I was eagerly hoping for something strange to happen.

So it was wee-bit disappointing that I did not encounter anything unusual during the seance, especially as other folks on the call had visions that tied into long-lost loved ones, all facilitated by a kind and professional exorcist (I incorrectly called R.H. Stavis a medium before we recorded!). Still, I don’t regret my participation in the slightest. As a major horror movie fan, I’m used to seances being vehicles for cinematic mayhem, for ghosts to leap at the camera and for lives to be destroyed and bodies torn to shreds. To participate in an actual seance, and to realize that the real thing is relaxed and positive and about as far from a chaotic spookfest as possible, was enlightening.

In a weird way, our seance ended up being the feel-good alternate universe version of Host: we all followed the rules, we all had a nice time, and we all survived. And somehow, it was full half-hour longer than the actual movie. I imagine your own personal baggage will inform how you watch the seance play out and whether you choose to believe it’s all legit or not, but my final takeaway was this: everyone involved entered the experience with pure intentions and we all left feeling a little better about ourselves, our world, and the loved ones who have left us. I’ll take it.

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Host is currently available to watch on the Shudder streaming service.

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