With Halloween just around the corner, the local cinema will surely be packed with the usual horror releases. The monster movie genre can go from sublime, to cheesy. When it’s done right thought, you can get an exhilarating film. One such example of this, was a Korean film released way back in 2006, called ‘The Host’. It’s a movie I would most certainly recommend any monster fan to check out!
Korea is well known for its gritty action show-reels, Park Chan-Wook’s ‘Vengeance’ trilogy containing ‘Oldboy’ is one of the most critically acclaimed trilogies around. ‘The Host’ does well to follow those footsteps and created one of my personal favourite monster flicks!
The film follows the journey of a father ,Gang-du, who sets out to rescue his daughter ,Hyun-seo , with the help of his father and siblings, after she managed to survive the initial attack by the monster. The origin of the monster is explained as the result of scientists dumping formaldehyde into the local river, hence you get this amphibious monstrosity! Director Bong Joon-Ho does a fine job in capturing the panic and terror of all those in the film. The opening attack in which Hyun-seo is taken away is the films best scene, and the moment when she is finally taken away, as the helpless father looks on, will effect anyone watching!
I’m not the biggest follower of Korean movies, so I can’t give a judgement on the actors involved in the film, I’ve not exactly followed their careers prior to the film! Song Kang-Ho who plays the emotional father, determined to find his daughter does an outstanding job. His character isn’t the smartest, but you can tell he is doing the best he can. The reason why he loses his daughter in the first place is due to his clumsiness, but you can’t help but feel sorry for him. The entire family is a bit rag tag, bar the older sister, the rest are not the most reliable of characters! But they band together well, to save their family. If the audience does not connect well with the family, the film would break down, so everyone does a fine job portraying their desperation.
Due to the location of the film, most of the best scenes are shot in the sewers, the monsters lair. This is where the film does its best work, as we follow young Hyun-seo trying to outwit a monster, who unlike many other monster movies, isn’t just a dumb creature. It’s more of a battle of wits! The film also has its share of action, where various people are in direct combat with the fiend. The action is far more intense, as these are not trained soldiers, but everyday civilians doing the attacking.
If you can look beyond the dated 2006 CGI, and the language barrier, you have a wonderfully intense monster flick, which doesn’t really get the credit it deserves in the West. If you’re looking for a film to watch over the Halloween weekend, do try to find this gem!