Quick Hit – This monster movie is perfectly crafted with humor and scares amid tensions of reality.
Since the beginning of monster movies (many of which we chronicled last Halloween – check it out if you have time), humans have been doing things to the environment that cause creatures to rise up and hurt us. The Host, which comes to us out of the Korean peninsula, is no different – the movie starts blatantly with an American telling a Korean man to dump hundreds of bottles of formedhyde down the drain that leads to a river. Multiple years later, we meet Park Gang-Doo, our extremely unlikely hero, as well as our monster, an amphibious monster with gaping maw that just wants to eat everyone in sight.
Completely shrugging off some monster movie clichés, director Joon-ho Bong doesn’t hesitate to show us his monster. His monster is a wonderful creation, with aspects to his nature that seem borrowed from real creatures, like tadpoles, as well as from other monster movies, like the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. It also interacts well with his environment, while still managing to hide in the shadows or out of the main focus of the screen at times. It’s a wonderful piece of monster movie filmmaking.
We also have our team of unlikely heroes – the Parks, who are on a mission to rescue their daughter from the monster that takes her in a terrifically shot sequence in the first twenty minutes of the movie. We have the aforementioned Gang-Doo, who seemingly falls asleep everywhere, and just tries to be the best father that he can be. We have his father, and his brother and sister, and each of them have their own demons to face. But their bickering leads some comedy to the movie which balances well with the tones of the rest of the film.
I think what The Host does well is another thing that is consistently present in monster films is apprehension or fear about things that humanity is currently doing. First, there’s the pollution aspect. Next, the film continually comes back to newscasters that are completely clueless, so there is some obvious media tension here. And finally, something you consistently see in foreign films, there is a fear of American’s and their decisions. While so many people in our politically charged climate are setting out their feelings on social media, films like these are a format to portray fear of American military or Environmental practices.
All in all, The Host is one of those monster movies that is pretty fun from start to finish. I would recommend that you take it and watch it this Halloween. I’m giving it an “A”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"