Director – Joon-ho Bong
Cast – Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Du-na Bae, Ah-sung Ko
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I’m really surprised with how well South Korea is keeping up with the main Asian horror veterans, Japan and China. South Korea has given us the amazing films Old Boy, A Tale of Two Sisters, and now a really great monster flick…The Host.
The film begins with a US military lab dumping hazardous chemicals into a drain that leads directly into the infamous Han River in Seoul. The chemical reacts badly with what seems to be a tadpole and then turns the tadpole into a huge crazy looking mutation that leaves the water and begins hunting down and devouring all those who congregate recreationally around the river. When the monster takes a young member of the Park family, they try desperately to retrieve the family member but to no avail. The family is then subsequently quarantined because they came in contact with a monster, but when the young relative’s father receives a phone call from the child, the family goes on a brave and dangerous mission to escape quarantine, kill the beast, and find the young child at all costs.
As an avid fan of creature feature flicks, it was a given that I was going to enjoy this film as long as it was decently executed. After viewing this flick, it is not only decently executed, it is almost expertly executed. Director Joon-ho Bong(go ahead and laugh you stoners) had already established himself as a credible director back in 2003 when he directed the South Korean masterpiece “Memories of Murder”, and his direction in The Host now solidifies himself in the horror walk of fame(which doesn’t actually exist…but yeah, haha!).
First off, the special effects in this film are simply amazing. Bravo to the special effects company Orphanage Inc. for the work they did on the creature in this film. Not only is the creature hideously original, but the scenes of the creature running around the riverbank while devouring people left and right are seriously amazing. This film makes Jurassic Park’s special effects look like they can from an Atari video game. Haha! This film really had more to it’s story than most classic monster films do. Most of those films are a bit cheesy, and simply include the monster terrorizing an area, and then being attacked by whatever military. However with this film, we have an interesting addition to the plot with the family having to break out of quarantine in order to find the young child. I found this really great because it adds a lot more conflict to the story than just the monster running around devouring people. Did I mention this movie is funny? Yeah, this movie is actually quite funny! It’s not an outright horror/comedy, but does have quite a few comedic scenes that really had me laughing out loud, which really makes this film even more fun to watch.
My only complaint about this film is that it gets a bit slow towards the middle, with a big gap in monster activity. I’m all about developing the story, but I felt that some of these scenes in the middle could have been done away with and would have improved the pacing of this film.
I was at first going to give this film a 7 rating because it had an original monster, awesome effects, but did wind up a bit slow, which is what kept it from being an 8 rating. However, this film had a lot of political undertones that you don’t quite notice right away, which I wound up liking. Now normally I am not a fan whatsoever of political undertones, but the reason why I enjoyed these was because they were smart, and not blatantly obvious like the undertones in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. You really have to pay attention in order to catch these undertones, and I really liked that given that I love films that make you “think”. So because this film is not good enough for an 8 rating because of pacing, yet it is naturally a bit better than the a 7 rating due to the fact that the undertones were interesting, I am settling on a 7.5 rating.
Overall, this is a great film is you are into monster flicks, great effects, and an interesting sub plot that makes this more than the typical “creature attacks city, and creature gets destroyed” monster flicks.
– I ranked this film #49 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(41-50) post.