Review – THE HOST (2006)

Ever been perusing Netflix when you stumble across a movie and go, “I’ve heard good things about this. I think I’ll watch it another time”? You do this several times until one night, when you’re desperate for entertainment, you throw it on and hope that all those good things you’ve heard are true? Such was the case with me and The Host.

It’s just another day at the Han River, or so it seems: a monster has been growing beneath the water and is ready to come out and play. Which it does. After killing a bunch of people and wreaking havoc, the monster kills Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko), the daughter of Gang-doo (Kang-ho Song). After the attack, everyone in the area is quarantined because of a deadly virus of which the monster is the host. When Gang-doo learns that his daughter is actually alive, he and his family must escape from quarantine and find her – all while eluding the authorities and the monster.

“One of the greatest monster movies ever made,” raves New York Magazine. My question: have you ever actually seen any monster movies? The Host certainly isn’t one of the greatest ever. It’s not even in the top ten. And what makes it such? Simple: the monster action isn’t that great. Much of the monster action is relegated to the beginning and the end. Sure, you get bits throughout the movie where the monster rears its ugly head to knock a person or two down (or off), or to show off its gymnastic skills as it swings along under a bridge, but none of it is gonna have you on the edge of your seat.

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However, the monster effects are actually pretty good. I went in thinking they were gonna be a few steps above a SyFy flick, but they wound up surpassing my expectations. Sure, there are a few times when they get dodgy – like in the final battle – but overall they’re pretty solid. So kudos to The Orphanage EFX company (who, sadly, isn’t around anymore).

Now, for the really important question: did this movie really have to be two hours long? Look, I’ve got no problem with flicks that take their time – I enjoy Citizen Kane, for Christ sakes – but unless you’re utilizing every minute of that to deliver the groceries, I’m gonna get bored. Which is exactly what happened with The Host: after an opening and a monster attack that show some promise, we’re thrown into a subplot involving a virus – a subplot, I should add, that exists solely for the filmmakers to make a point about corruption in the U.S. military, and nothing more. The virus subplot sounds interesting, but once we learn that there aren’t really any stakes involved, it winds up just being an obstacle en route to the end credits. If you remove it, the only thing the film would suffer is a shorter runtime.

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Despite the film being over-long, we do get characters who are interesting and funny, and they do help distract us for a bit. However, this only lasts so long: by the hour mark, you’ll be checking your watch often and find your mind wandering to better things.

Final Thoughts:

The Host is a pretty tame flick in comparison to stuff like Alien, The Thing, the Godzilla movies, and so on. Uninspiring monster action, and over-long runtime, and a subplot that goes nowhere relegate The Host to a strict one-time watch.

About Evan Romero

Evan Romero has been a horror fan since watching “Leprechaun” at the age of five. Aside from watching and writing about horror flicks, he delights in torturing friends with Z-grade movies. He’s also an unabashed Andy Milligan fan, God help him.

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