Monster movies don’t usually work for me because they are missing the human element, that’s not the case for this one.
The Host surrounds a dysfunctional family that love and care for one another, and while it is a monster movie, the monster creates suspense and plays an important part as the antagonist to the plot. The prelude shows a United States scientist ordering his assistant to empty a mass of toxic chemicals into the Han River and this mutates into a (fish?) monster. Next, the family is introduced, with the laughable Park Gang-Doo, played by Kang-ho Song, as the key protagonist. His first encounter with the monster results in the kidnapping of his daughter and the hunt to find her is what brings his family together. The government holds the family in containment to avoid spreading a said, “virus” that they have from being in close proximity to the monster. The director, Joon-ho Bong is not afraid to kill key characters to create tension, as half of the family we follow become prey to the monster. This monster movie has a bit of a political agenda when it comes to the prelude, which I could see as a complaint against the United States. It could be seen as such by the one American character that will take the easier route that essentially makes mistakes, and in this case destruction in the form of a monster, he accidentally creates. This may just be them throwing the long-standing joke of western monster films showing creatures birthed in Asia.
The film works best as a comedy and hits every note perfectly while also transitioning to jump-scares with ease. The Host did a lot of what Oldboy did commercially. It is not a better film, however, it is still of high quality and with that in mind, it proves that South Korea can make multiple hits that reach international success too. To date, The Host is one of the highest grossing South Korean films. It was at the attention of Hollywood very quickly after it was released, as it had not only become the highest grossing film of its time but also reinstating that South Korea has been diverse and creative with their films. It was also a popcorn type hit for international viewers and was immediately acquired for Hollywood rights soon after release, however, there is still no news on a remake. There was a sequel in the works for a while and there was even some test footage available online, yet sadly I think we won’t be getting it although I do hold out hope for a Hollywood version one day.
I really love this film and I think the CGI still holds up remarkably well. Check it out if you like comedy-horror.