Movie #120 2020: The Host (2006)

Oh, Bong Joon-ho. What can’t you do? I am literally just waiting for him to make a musical at this point because is there even another genre he’s not ticked off his list yet?

Weirdly, I’ve seen a couple of reviewers plead with Bong to stick to one genre in each movie but… why?! What he does best is include several genres within one film, and it is just so masterful that I don’t understand how anyone could be against that. Long live our genre-melding King.

With The Host, Bong brings us a drama/action/horror in the form of a monster that emerges from a river in Seoul and wreaks havoc upon its citizens. I didn’t actually expect it to be so relatable to the current pandemic, but there is some virus talk and some denial that anything is even wrong to hit you right in the face amongst the raging creature feature theme.

Honestly, this type of thing isn’t usually my cup of tea. Any horror movie that isn’t realistic enough to be scary (i.e. giant fish monsters jumping out of the water), or movies like Cloverfield (i.e. viral infection thrillers) just doesn’t do it for me. However, this is a monster/virus movie with a difference and I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.

The Host is much more straightforward in plot than some of Bong’s other works, but there is still some brilliant storytelling here. As the movie progresses, it becomes less about the monster itself, and more about the importance of family and loyalty to one another. Song Kang-ho shines once again in the leading role, so it would be lovely to see more of him in the future.

For a film that was made in 2006, the CGI here is pretty bad. But it actually doesn’t matter all that much. Where The Host lacks in the false visuals, it thrives in the real ones. The previously mentioned sequences involving the conventions of the love of a family are extremely well done, and end up being extremely moving. This is not the type of thing you expect from a movie about a whale-like, people killing beast.

The best thing about this movie is it’s soundtrack. Some parts of it are very Hitchcockian, others parts are like they came from a grand symphony. It’s a tension building delight, and probably the only reason I made it through the less interesting points of the movie.

Is this as good as Bong’s other movies? No. But with Parasite to contend with, it’d have to be something pretty special.

The Host is available to rent on the Google Play Store for £2.49.

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