A strong whiff of phoniness hangs over this derivative tale of a drunken Zoom-call birthday party that gets out of hand Of all the awfulnesses rained down on us by coronavirus, down the list in 457th place is the return of the found-footage movie, back on our screens in the guise of the Zoom-call film. Last year’s nifty little chiller Host was a masterclass in how to do it: a subgenre high. Much less satisfying is this gimmicky and derivative pandemic thriller directed by Will Wernick about a drunken virtual party that gets out of hand. There is absolutely no sense of it being shot in real time and a strong whiff of phoniness hangs over the whole thing. Newsreel footage sets the scene. It’s America, summer 2022. After four waves of coronavirus, 31 million Americans are dead, and a nationwide night-time curfew is in place. Stuck at home in Los Angeles on his birthday making do with an online party is Evan (Dan J Johnson). His girlfriend Jen (Jocelyn Hudon) is with him; she’s pregnant but waiting till after the party to break the news. Their friends, joining online, feel like an assemblage of 90s sitcom stereotypes: a cute gay couple, Evan’s party-hard best mate and Jen’s singleton pal.
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