Host, The (2006) Review

"The Host" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Host" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Writer: Baek Chul-hyun, Bong Joon-ho
Producer: Choi Yong-bae
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona, Ko Ah-Sung
Running Time: 120 min.

By Ningen

A subordinate Korean guy who probably works for Harvey Weinstein at his day-job listens to his white American supervisor scientist know-it-all guy and dumps some random chemicals into the sink, even though the pipe leads to the Han river. What the toxic mix creates is some sort of weird hybrid between Godzilla ’98, Yonggary, and the spawn from the Alien films. The mutant starts attacking South Korea by swallowing random people and spitting them out into a drain so it can save them for later. Among one of its victims is the daughter of Gang-Du Park, a slacker snack vendor who belongs to a dysfunctional family of losers. When he finds out that the girl is still miraculously alive, he teams up with his dad and siblings to save her and possibly even take down the beast in the process. Unfortunately, because he was bitten, Gang-Du gets targeted by the U.S.-led government. The feds want to perform experiments on civilians, while using a viral outbreak as the pretext for quarantining the “hosts” of said virus.

While I do like the fact that the monster in the film doesn’t look out of place in spite of being cg, The Host suffers from its secondary anti-American plot, since it confuses the viewer over whether they’re watching a horror flick or a political thriller. Plus the arc may not sit well with the easily- offended foreigner who doesn’t like us being equated with the Japanese from WW2. (Of course, since the average American doesn’t care about history, it’d probably fly right over their heads anyway.) Anyway, while the human experimentation analogy didn’t bother me, I’m still baffled about how the hero’s able to escape the situation. In fact, it’s actually the second escape he makes-the first one with his family-and both drag down the pacing.

I like my horror to have a sense of fear, but unfortunately, The Host suffers from a sense of reptition. You either have to sit through countless scenes of Nam-il (Gang-du’s daughter) trying to escape or Gang-Du’s family bumbling their way through encounters with the creature in question.

By the time they finally get an edge on it, the fights start feeling anti-climactic. Also, while some may think the negative endings for certain characters add some darkness to the tone of the film, I’m annoyed that the film had me rooting for them, only to have them lose anyway. What’s the point? Even the way The Host finishes is uncertain. This might normally add a sense of forboding, but in actuality, feels out of place, since you can’t tell whether the director’s trying to be cute or scary.

In conclusion, The Host is not bad, but it doesn’t deliver.

Ningen’s Rating: 6/10 for atmosphere and creature-shop effects; 5/10 for story; 7/10 for interesting characters (6.5 total)

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One Response to Host, The (2006) Review

  1. Arthur says:

    The biggest South Korean blockbuster of all time and an amazing film by prolific director Bong Joon Ho (“Memories of Murder”, “Mother”). “The Host” delivers on ALL fronts. The incredible Song Kang Ho delivers an outstanding performance. This film is in my Top 10 list of All-Time. 10/10. Can’t wait for the sequel in 2013.

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