Movie Name: The Host
Release Date(s): July 27, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
A monster is birthed through pollution in the Han River and grows to massive size. Going on a killing rampage along the shoreline, the creature grabs Hyun-seo (Go Ah-sung) and takes her back to its lair. Hyun-seo’s family is out to find her. Her father Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) is a little slow witted, her uncle Nam-il (Park Hae-il) is a political activist with a drinking problem, her aunt Nam-joo (Bae Doona) is an archer who can’t seem to take a shot on time, and her grandfather Hee-bong (Byun Hee-bong) sees his children as failures. As the government moves in to stop a virus associated with the monster, the family must rescue Hyun-seo before it is too late!
Written (in part) and directed by Bong Joon-ho, The Host (괴물 or Gwoemul aka Monster) is a South Korean monster film. The movie became one of South Korean’s highest grossing films of all time (with a relatively low budget) and received critical acclaim around the world.
I was excited about The Host as soon as I saw images from the film. I’m a big fan of monster movies, and the movie seemed to take the right approach by not only combining horror but humor with the story…much like the Godzilla films. Seeing it in the theater, I wasn’t disappointed (which is often a rarity by anticipated films).
The actual basis for the film has some truth to it. In 2000, a Korean mortician working for the U.S. military released bottles of formaldehyde leading to backlash against the U.S. Bong Joon-ho combined this with the discovery of a mutated fish in the Han into the basis for the story. The movie then shifts to a outbreak/disease storyline that runs parallel to the monster/family storyline.
The actual plot however is a bit of an oddity. The movie often received comparisons to Little Miss Sunshine upon its release in that the family is such a group of screw-ups. The casting is great all the players really hit the mark. I especially like Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung as the father/daughter leads. It is also interesting to note that the film has a couple of American actors including Scott Wilson as the doctor ordering the release of the formaldehyde.
Visually, the movie is good if you go with the visuals. The monster is sometimes hit-or-miss but how Bong Joon-ho incorporates the special effects into his great cinematography makes the monster more believable. The film also does a few experimental shots and genre blending to keep the plot and story varied…I don’t think the burning of the monster at the end looks very good however.
The Host is a fun ride that has gained a following over the years. There have been talks of sequels and American versions, but hopefully, movie makers will shy away from that idea. I know that Hollywood is lazy and a big hit like The Host will not stay dead…let’s just hope that someone creative gets a hold of it if it is remade.
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