The Host (2006) Review
Written by: BlackTequilaKiss
A Korean film that surprised me as it managed to be not just thrilling but also emotional and intense. Add to that a healthy dose of humour and some truly kick-ass scenes and this is easily one of the better monster movies I have seen in quite some time.
It didn't lag and set up characters we do care for, it begins with a nice little insight to why everything occurs and it manages to shock within the first 20 minutes of the film.
Some of my favourite movies are those that very quickly cut to the chase without too lengthy beginnings. Some I've watched have taken an hour to get going and by then it can feel a waste of time, this didn't. After the set up it drove to the point quickly and that was honestly a brilliant move!
9th February 2000 and the American military base release toxic chemicals in the drain that connects to the Han River, all under direction of an arrogant coroner: Six years later...
A monster, shaped mutant squid leaves the water and begins to attack those on the side of the river and enjoying a peaceful day. Park Hyun-seo, a young teenager is taken by the creature and vanishes. All the family is quarantined, until Hyun's slow father, Park Gang-du, receives a call from his daughter, saying she is alive in a sewage line near the river. With no one but his own family to believe in him, they join forces to find his daughter and stop the monster before any more casualties are left behind.
What really stood out was each individual character. Often I am not given rise to care for any character, horror movies have become complacent and what use to make characters seem warm and open as made them seem rather cold and clinical. The Host pushed away from that and gave us characters we care and respect in equal measure and therefore it was not hard to become invested in those you watched.
I cannot pick a single actress/ actor in this movie. From Kang-ho Song who plays the troubled father to Ah-sung Ko as the daughter snatched away, they all play to their strengths and it shows. Flitting between a range of emotions; fear, dread, despair, anger, hope among others and we drive with them all the way through. Truly brilliant actors who gained my heart and emotions, it's the brunt of a good actor who can twist emotions and keep our sympathy and in some movies where characters are rather one dimensional, it was wonderful to have characters I identified and cared for.
The special effects are pretty good at times they cross now and again into hammy / cheesy but that is part of the charm of The Host. It knows when to be serious and when to loosen a little and revel in the cheesiness. It was that blur between both that suited the overall tones of the movie and stopped it being ridiculous. In good humour and when required the monster looked pretty damn awesome!
As for the music, I will admit I was surprised. It was never ostentatious or overdone but rather fitting to the scenes it portrayed. There were lovely moments when the music lingered softly and gently against ambient scenes and other equal moments, when the score was intense but never overridden to the point it ruined the movie. That was down to director, Joon-ho Bong who knew when to be sharp and when to go mellow without losing sight of what the movie needed.
Cinematography, wow! I could lie and say it was ok, but it was better than. Managing to tweak and focus in on some of the minute detail was very smart and well accrued. Major shots of Seoul's Han River, managed to look both foreboding and intense. You had to wonder what was beneath the depths of those waters. Then there's the hospital, sterilized and absolute white, there's an emptiness that exists in those scenes and a sense of utmost dread as you know something untoward is due to happen. There are many moments of scenery that truly stand high and bring an exhilarating edge to the whole of The Host.
Regardless of some of the cheesy effects this really is a great monster movie as it does not use one element to get noticed but rather an eclectic mix. It's a political cover up, it's an emotional fragile family, it's a humourous tale, and it’s a genuinely shocking story that actually takes certain turns we are not accustomed to in movies. It loses people along the way we become attached to,
and the ending is both uplifting and devastating. It tugs at the heartstrings and then eventually brings a smile to our face. For anyone who loves truly good monster flicks this is a must see. It's not OTT yet just right and with a cast who bring the whole film to life.
I loved The Host, it delivered more than I ever expected and was a joyous watch from opening credits to the last remorseful / beautiful scene.
Do I recommend watching this? Yes, yes and yes. It's got enough backbone to keep anyone interested and plenty of heart to make it different.
A monster movie of epic proportions and one that has stolen a place within my heart. The Host is simply brilliant.
It gains respectively 8 out of 10 from me and is one I do wholeheartedly recommend.
Razor Blade Hugs,