Like so many sci-fi movies before it, the creature in The Host is the product of human carelessness with toxic and hazardous chemicals. The beast is born from the Han River when a mortician at the Yongsan U.S. Army base in
The action in the movie revolves around the uber-dysfunctional Park family. The elderly father owns and operates a snack bar on the banks of the Han. His son, Gang-du, who works at the stand is apparently so incompetent and lazy that he is unaffected by removal of part of his brain later in the film. His younger brother is a hopeless drunk, and their sister is (improbably) a nationally acclaimed archery medalist. Gang-du has a young daughter, Hyun-seo, who is the apple of everyone’s eye and perpetually disappointed in her idiotic father. As the movie opens Gang-du joins a crowd of onlookers that have noticed something hanging from the underside of the
Here is where Bong Joon-ho breaks with tradition. In most creature features the monster is kept out of sight as long as possible as the suspense builds in the audience and the imagination of moviegoers takes hold. Speilberg does this in “Jaws” brilliantly.Additionally , a second reason for keeping the monster out of sight until the film’s climax is because, honestly, most movie monsters look like crap. They are either appear to be poorly made Muppets spun up on crystal meth or are obviously computer generated and seem to have been cut out with scissors and glued into each frame of the film. This is not the case with the creature in The Host. The state-of-the-art special effects courtesy of a creative partnership between Weta Workshop (King Kong, The Lord of the Rings) and The Orphanage (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,
Sticking true to the genre, as part of an American-backed disinformation campaign the South Korean government announces that the beast apparently is the host of an unidentified virus so anyone that came into contact with it must be quarantined. Some my say this political subplot is just a distraction, but I challenge anyone to find a monster movie that doesn’t have a political understory. Having feared the worst, Gang-du receives a phone call from his daughter who is frightened, but very much alive in the monster's lair. Gang-du makes plans to infiltrate the quarantined area with the rest of the Park family to rescue his daughter from the clutches of the horrifying Host. Along the way the Parks are drawn closer together as they battle not only the amphibious, mutant beast, but also scores incompetent government conspirators and, in the end, an American chemical weapon called "Agent Yellow."
The Host is a surprising treasure in a genre that is as old as film itself. It swings sometimes violently from being an action film to a comedy to a tear-jerking drama, but it does so in a memorable fashion that doesn’t seem forced or constrained by the label of “creature feature.” Without being a spoiler I will say that the ending is very gloomy, surprising, and depressing. Definitely not your typical