Project Horror, Day 25: The Host


Before I begin tonight's review, I have to make a housekeeping note.  In my review for Mondo Cane a few days ago, I mentioned that only it and a movie coming later on the list had won Oscars.  It turns out that was wrong - An American Werewolf in London won the Oscar for Best Makeup, and rightly so.

Tonight's movie was The Host, a monster movie from South Korea.  The monster was kind of like an Asian Cloverfield, by which I mean smaller and more polite.

Actually, there are only some surface similarities to Cloverfield, but I just couldn't help making my awful, awful joke.

The movie starts with a scene inspired by a real-life event, where a Korean worker at a US Army base is instructed to poor a large amount of chemicals down the drain, eventually to end up in the Han River.  Time passes, and a few years later two fishermen notice a mutant fish in the river.  A few years after that, people relaxing by the river notice something strange hanging below a bridge, something which dives into the water, swims to shore, and goes on a rampage.  The rest of the story mainly centers around one family trying to find their teenage relative who was abducted by the creature, and believed dead until she is able to send them a signal.

This was a pretty effective movie.  I'd have liked if they'd ratcheted up the tension more in a few places, and if there had been more of the monster, but it keeps you off balance enough that it brings a few good scares.  Much like the monster is kind of incidental to The Thing, with the real story being the paranoia between the other characters, the monster in this movie ends up being sort of secondary to the story, with the family's search and the frustrations of government bureaucracy being the main threads.

I give this three Cup Noodles out of five.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'd say it's 'more polite' than Cloverfield. I like both movies but this one sticks with me because it feels more real.

That said, it lags in the second half. I love the family dynamic but hunting the monster is just slow. The appearance of the beast, however, is classic.

I'd recommend "Memories of Murder", the previous film by the director, about the first (and unsolved) serial killer mystery in South Korean history (the 80s, iirc). It has the famous Korean cinematic tonal shifts - funny, poignant, creepy in turns - and it is really, really good. It came out here around the time of Zodiac and compares very favorably to it.

Danny said...

No, I know - that was just part of my poorly executed joke about it being Asian. I should maybe consider excising that part from the review.

Yeah, I liked this movie over all, which is why I gave it three out of five, but I think your diagnosis is true. I wanted more action, less sewer combing. There was also a really clumsy bit of foreshadowing, when the sports announcer says that the aunt's problem is that she always waits to long to release when she's shooting, and you know that somehow that will come into play later. Still, I really liked the final scene with the monster, seeing how all of them reconvened and used their individual skills to take it down. And I liked that it was big enough to be threatening, but still small and agile enough that it's not just smashing the city like Godzilla or Cloverfield.

I've just added that to the queue - thanks for the recommendation! I don't know if I'd have put my finger on it like you did, but I did notice those shifts when watching "The Host." Somebody would be walking along, and just slip and fall out of the blue while things kept happening around them; I'd sort of rub my eyes, wonder if I'd really just seen that, and keep watching.

Will Meekin said...

Absolutely not. The joke was clever, accurate and personalized your review. Don't defang the thing.

But only 3 cups o' noodles? I gave it 4 stars on Netflix a-way back when it came out, but that's probably only because Netflix doesn't allow 1/2 stars. It does drag in the third reel, true. By your system I suppose I'd concede that it's only 3 cups and an .18c package of Ramen.


And thanks Anonymous, I added Memories of Murder to my queue as well. Speaking of Korean cinema, have you seen the Chan-wook Park trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy & Lady Vengeance? Oldboy, the only one I've seen so far, is pretty bad-ass, and there's an obvious but nifty homage to the hallway fight in the underrated Repo Men (Forest Whitaker, Jude Law, Liev Schreiber). But I digress, none of those movies are BOO!

Danny said...

Here is the thing about my rating system - as awesome as my talents in other areas are, image manipulation is not something I'm good at. My ratings process consists of searching Google Images for the thing I want, saving it, pasting it into Word five times, and then using Word's image controls to adjust the contrast on the number of pictures I want to deduct. Then I screenshot that, paste it into Paint, copy the portion of the screen I want, paste it into a new image, save that and upload it to my blog. It's not a hard process, but also not one that lets me give half points very easily. Otherwise I'd probably have tossed in that Ramen.

Like you, the only one I've seen is the fantastic Oldboy, but the others are in the queue. I'd like to see Repo Men, too - I love Forest Whitaker, and the premise of the story sounds like a Phillip K. Dick story.

Anonymous goes by that because it's easier to spell than Eric.

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