While social media offers people the perfect opportunity to share their experiences with the world, their real lives aren’t always as ideal as they portray them to be online. That’s certainly the case for actress Sara Canning’s protagonist of Claire in the new horror thriller, ‘Superhost,’ as her relentless quest to continuously garner excellent feedback from her followers is just masking her true emotional struggles.
‘Superhost’ is now available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of RLJE Films. The discs include several bonus features, including a director commentary, the featurettes ‘Behind-the-Scenes of ‘Superhost’ and ‘Shooting in a Pandemic,’ bloopers, ‘Superhost’ visual FX, behind-the-scenes photo gallery and ‘Scaredycats’ episodes 1 and 2.
Brandon Christensen (‘Z,’ ‘Still/Born’) wrote and directed ‘Superhost.’ The drama stars Sara Canning (‘9-1-1,’ ‘Nancy Drew’), Osric Chau (‘The Flash,’ ‘Nancy Drew’), Gracie Gillam (‘Z Nation,’ ‘Scream Queens’) and Barbara Crampton (Jakob’s Wife‘).
‘Superhost’ follows Claire and her boyfriend, Teddy (Chau), travel vloggers who run the titular channel, for which they stay in, and share their experiences about, vacation homes. Until recently, they had been successful at running the channel. But as they now face a dwindling subscriber count, they believe they find the perfect opportunity to create content that people will want to see – their interactions with Rebecca, the host of their most recent trip.
However, Claire and Teddy slowly they start to realize that something isn’t right with Rebecca. As the couple investigates their suspicions further, they unlock a horrifying truth. She doesn’t just want a great review, she wants something far worse.
Canning generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Superhost.’ Among other things, the actress discussed that she was in part drawn to play Claire in the movie because she previously worked with Christensen on his previous horror thriller, ‘Z,’ and wanted to collaborate with him on building another complex, yet equally relatable, character. She also shared that she embraced having the opportunity to improvise and build the characters’ relationships with her co-stars, notably Chau, on set in one main location.
ShockYa (SY): You play Claire in the new horror thriller, ‘Superhost.’ What was it about the character, as well as the overall script, that inspired you to take on the role?
Sara Canning (SC): I knew Brandon Christensen and (producer) Kurt Harder from working from working with them on the film ‘Z’ they made in 2018. So Brandon sent me a pretty early draft of ‘Superhost’ and said, “I’m thinking about filming this, and making this happen, soon. What do you think?” I thought it was great and would be really fun.
In terms of the character of Claire, I thought (playing her) would be an interesting challenge for me to deal with the online persona thing versus the reality of the difficulties of the relationship that she’s in, as well as trying to keep up the subscription mission that she’s on all the time. That would make me anxious all of the time, personally. (Canning laughs.)
So I knew these guys, and that it would be a really fun atmosphere on set. So I was in right from the get-to.
SY: Speaking of Brandon, he wrote, directed and produced the film. What was your experience like of reuniting, and collaborating, with him on developing Claire’s character arc?
SC: Things shifted a little bit from the first draft to the second, just in terms of what Claire had going on personally. We definitely talked a lot about why she’s maybe not as present in the relationship (with Teddy) as she could be.
We also got to the point of her, for lack of a better word, obsession in driving the channel forward, and being so business-minded. We also talked about dealing with an online presence; the stakes can become so huge, I think, for some people that their reality can fall by the wayside a little bit.
So I was interested in that, and (showing that social media influencers’) personal relationships can be neglected because of the immense work (they need to put in). I’ve seen that in everyday life, and all the work that goes into maintaining that online presence – it’s just massive for some people.
SY: ‘Superhost’ also stars Osric Chau, Gracie Gillam and Barbara Crampton. What was your experience like of collaborating with them in developing your characters’ relationships?
SC: It was really fun – every cast member was great. It was so nice that Barbara Crampton dropped in for a couple of days. Having Osric and Gracie around all the time was also so fun and light-hearted.
Osric and I had a lot of fun working on the YouTube portion of the film because we both found that really challenging. We were in the same mind about what a different skill it is than being an actor. Even though the YouTube video scenes were really fun, we definitely found them to be the hardest. (Canning laughs.) We went from laughing in between scenes to asking, “Does this work?”
SY: Speaking of the YouTube sequences, what was the experience like of creating the physicality for your portrayal of Claire in those scenes? What was the experience like of also creating the physicality for your role in general?
SC: In terms of the YouTube scenes, Brandon had written the skeleton for them, but a lot of it was improvised; we did a lot of it on the spot, which was slightly nerve-racking. (Canningn laughs.)
In terms of the general physicality, we would just walk through the house with Brandon and our cinematographer, Clayton (Moore), who would be holding the camera. Osric and I would hold our hands up to fake that we were actually holding the camera.
It was such a great house, which exists (in real life) as is. There were so many curiosities in that house that we incorporated them as much as we could (into the movie).
SY: Speaking of the house, the drama is set in the vacation home and surrounding property that Claire and Teddy visit to record their latest vlog posts, and was shot on location in Mount Charleston, Nevada, What was the experience like of shooting ‘Superhost’ on location?
SC: I love the location and where we were staying – we were really tucked away. COVID was very much a thing when we shot the movie, so (being on location) was helpful in that way.
But (in general), I just enjoy working that way. I love getting to travel for work, and where we were staying was such a gorgeous place. It’s so different from where I live – I live in Vancouver, and we were basically (shooting) on a desert mountaintop. Usually when I climb a flight of stairs I’m gasping for breath. (Canning laughs.)
But overall, (the location) was lovely, and the house was an incredible set to be in. It kept the film quite contained, and it was nice to know every morning that we were going back to the house and seeing the same small group of people.
I think we went into Vegas once because we all really wanted Indian food. (Canning laughs.) So we ate together off the mountain once, and then we went right back up there. But I like that experience, though, and I have such fond memories of it.
SY: ‘Superhost’ (is now available) on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of RLJE Films, as well as on Shutter. Why do you think the dual distribution is beneficial for this type of movie?
SC: It’s been really fun, especially since I have friends all over the place, so they can all watch it. I have friends who are religious subscribers of Shutter, and watch everything that’s on there. So it’s so cool to hear them say that they can watch it so easily, which isn’t always the case with independent films. So that’s been really amazing.