Entries Comments

Movie Review: The Host

The Host (Gwoemul)
Directed by Joon-ho Bong
Written by Bong, Chul-hyun Baek, and Jun-won Ha
Magnolia Pictures

You don’t see monster movies much anymore, probably because so much depends on the creature itself to be scary, and it’s a genre that has been tread many times in classic Godzilla films, Jaws, and Jurassic Park, but more often than not, falls on its face.  Straight-up horror films with a guy in a mask are so much easier to make.

South Korea recently unleashed The Host to box office records in their country, and it got good critical reception when it finally came here.  The Host is a good monster movie, but it’s also a pretty funny satire as well.

Gang-du Park (Kang-ho Song) is a single father helping running his dad Hie-bong’s (Byeon Hie-bong) beachside corner store near the Han River.  His sister Nam-Joo (Du-na Bae) is a bronze-medal-winning archer and his brother Hae-il (Nam-il Park) is an underachieving drunken intellectual.  His daughter Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko) comes home to the corner store in time for a sea creature to rampage the area, taking her with it to its sewer lair.

At first, the Parks think she’s been eaten, but a cell phone call provides hope.  Unfortunately, the creature apparently is host to a dangerous virus and the Parks are being kept in a biohazard facility.  They find a way to escape and look for Hyun-seo while the government tries to track them down, all the while avoiding further attacks from the mutant creature.

The beginning scene sets the tone, as an American scientist tells one of his Korean underlings to pour formaldehyde into the sink, which leads to the Han River.  The government is the true villain in the film, and this remains consistent throughout, even though the monster certainly does its part.  But the fact that it was created from negligence and does only what it knows to do actually makes the creature a sympathetic character, even as it kills and kidnaps.

The movie has a funny tone, as well.  Inane conversation gets struck up during serious scenes, ridiculous movie conventions (like a man giving important, supposed-to-be-secret exposition in front of the heroes, believing them to be sedated) are sent up, and overall, it’s got some cool action and horror in the mix.  It’s a perfect genre film, one I highly recommend.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.