Written by Chul-hyun Baek, Joon-ho Bong and Won-jun Ha
Directed by Joon-ho Bong
Running Time: 1:59
for creature violence and language.
For all the hype, The Host to me was nothing more than a Saturday afternoon Sci-Fi channel movie in a foreign language.
After toxic chemicals are dumped in a river, a creature is born that seems to like to eat people and/or store them to eat later. A young ne'er-do-well who works at a food stand with his father, allows his young daughter to be taken by the creature. Then, along with his father, brother and sister, they set out to try and find the girl, while the rest of the area is put under quarantine. While not the most resourceful person, nor the best parent ever, he goes to great length to save the only thing he's ever done right - his daughter.
I have to admit, for the greater part of The Host I was rather bored. It started off quickly enough. The chemical dumping takes place within the first few seconds of the film, although it is never explained why thousands of bottles are dumped in the river. Then suddenly we're in present day and a large monster has been created under water and it starts attacking people. The idea is good and I liked the fact that it jumped right into the action. Unfortunately the creature they came up with was so fake looking I thought I was watching something on YouTube. Maybe in Korea its cutting edge special effects, but with the amount of effect I see on a daily basis, the fakeness of the creature left a bad taste in my mouth. I actually started to laugh because I thought maybe for a second this was a creature spoof film instead of a real thriller.
When you base an entire movie around a creature that isn't the least bit scary and is instead rather funny, you're in trouble. There needed to be a compelling story or at least sympathetic characters. There weren't. You had an odd mishmash of personalities that I never could quite figure out. The main guy, who I believe was played by Kang-ho Song, was a sad little man who had no redeeming qualities. I never felt like I should care about him, no matter how much he may have loved his daughter. There was nothing really heroic about him. *Warning, I'm about to ruin the ending of the movie so skip ahead to the next paragraph* The worst part was, no matter how hard he tried, his daughter still ended up dying and instead of showing any kind of sadness, he instead adopts another kid, who had lost his parents, and the world just kept on going. I can't blame the actor for that I suppose, but if he didn't care enough to mourn the loss of his daughter, why should I?
The rest of the cast was strange in their own ways. None of them were interesting to me. I kind of wish the movie had been a spoof because at least there would have been a few intentional laughs. Instead I kept laughing at the absurdity of the situations. And of course the creature. Next time you're lying on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, flip on the Sci-Fi channel and see if they have one of their classic B-movies on where you have a CGI creature that's so obviously fake, the actors are talking about 3 feet to the left of it. Add a few more production dollars and that's where you'll find the creature in The Host. At no time did I ever feel like anyone one on screen was actually interacting with it. It was a valiant effort for certain, but it never connected. And yet I see these reviews that say it's a great film and brilliant satire filled with chills and thrills and comedy and I can't figure out what movie these people saw. Maybe this is one of those films that deserves a second viewing. But the movie I saw was enough to put most people to sleep. The only redeeming part of the film was Ah-sung Ko, the actress who played the little girl. Now she had gumption. I was rooting for her to figure her way out and save herself, since the rest of her family seemed rather inept. I'd like to see her grow up and get her own action film because I think she's got emotional range.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I wasn't a huge fan of The Host. Based on the overwhelming positive reviews from other people, maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind when I saw it, but I also don't know if I can sit through it again. Just thinking about that creature makes me chuckle.
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