Retro Film Review: Host (Virtual Obsession, 1998)

in #aaa2 months ago


In 1990s Hollywood benefited a lot from the unbelievably rapid advance of information technology. Content of its films, however, didn't catch up with technological progress and on-screen computers were still being portrayed as dark, malevolent force. One of good examples is Host a.k.a. Virtual Obsession, 1998 television film directed by Mick Garris.

The plot of the film is based on Host, novel by Peter James. Its protagonist is Dr. Joe Messenger (played by Peter Gallagher), scientist in charge of huge computer that services entire states. Such powerful machine is also used for all kinds of experiments, including those that simulate activity of human brain. Messenger is soon aided by young and attractive scientist Juliet Spring (played by Bridgette Wilson). She immediately tries to seduce her boss, who is at first hesitant and wants to remain faithful to his wife Karen (played by Mimi Rogers). In the end, Juliet uses her ultimate seduction weapon -she is mortally ill and uses Joe's sympathy to sleep with him. Her death is supposed to bring Joe's infidelity episode to an end, but Joe later discovers that Karen uploaded her consciousness into computer. Joe now has to deal with his lover's ghost using supercomputer to threaten his family.

Combining virtual reality and Fatal Attraction plot wasn't a bad idea per se. The script by Preston Sturgess Jr. and Mick Garris touched some interesting issues - immortality, fidelity and modern man's complete dependence on technology - but it never used them properly. Virtual Obsession is burdened not only with low budget, but also with lack of writers' imagination. The plot quickly succumbs to cheap horror cliches and even less experienced audience won't have much difficulty in predicting its resolution. To make things worse, most of the characters in this film aren't very likeable, although rivalry between two women played by Bridgette Wilson and Mimi Rogers had potential for interesting drama. But, all those chances weren't exploited and Virtual Obsession is just one of those countless TV films to sink into non virtual oblivion.

RATING: 2/10 (-)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on April 22nd 2004)

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