Hmm, so this movie came out back in 2006 and it seems to have held up quite nicely. I say this because I have seen people to this day still put it on their lists for favorite monster movies. As for myself, I hadn’t watched it until much more recently. I guess at one point I had planned on seeing it before but as time passed on, it went further and further to the back of my mind up until I completely forgot about it. Then not too long ago I watched this movie called Snowpiercer, a movie that I completely fell in love with. So much so that I got curious to see what other projects the people involved in it had worked on. To my surprise Bong Joon-ho, who both wrote and directed it, did the same for The Host. Immediately I got intrigued and with the movie being on Netflix I decided to finally give it a shot.
The premise of the movie was simple enough. It all starts when these two guys decide to pour dangerous chemicals down the drain. A seemingly dumb act that is made even worse by the fact that they freaking knew it was wrong! *sighs* From what I have read this scene was based on something that really happened. O_O Back in ’00 an American Mortician at the Yongsan military base ordered his staff to pour 120 liters of formaldehyde down the drain. Luckily in real life nothing bad happened but still people need to know better!!!!! In the movie though what ends up happening is that those chemicals work there way to the Han River and cause a huge mutation to one of it’s wildlife. Creating this weird creature, which has a pretty cool design btw.(albeit with some spotty CGI at points) It is this creature which one day makes its way onto Seoul where it starts killing people off and taking bodies back to it’s nest. One of those people being a middle schooler by the name of Hyun Seo. She gets taken and the movie becomes about her family trying to get her back.
At this point I gotta say that either I forgot or just never heard about the family aspect of this because I was totally surprised by it. I wasn’t expecting such a character focused film.. Normally in these types of movies I feel like they try to just give us a cool monster with some cool set pieces, with the characters playing second fiddle. Or if they do have good characters the vice versa becomes the problem. With this that didn’t seem to be a problem however as it balances both nicely.
Starting with the characters, it centers on a family like I said before. You have the father of the missing girl Gang-du, her aunt Nam-joo, her uncle Nam-il, and her grampa Hee bong. They each have distinctive personalities and talents that become useful as the movie plays out. Meaning all the characters at one point or another feel important which makes it easy for us to attach to them. Specially considering they are all flawed in one way or another making them an unlikely pair of heroes. The most accomplished of them owning a snack bar while the others are an idiot, a drunk, and archer with low confidence. This makes it interesting to watch them grow into their roles and conquer their problems.
As for the monster itself, it does feel like a viable threat throughout. Sometimes it may seem too CGI but you definitely feel it’s presence and it’s impact. Oh and that isn’t the case because it is some gore fest because it really isn’t. I was amazed that the filmmakers took a step back and left some things up to the imagination. You didn’t need to see limbs flying all over the place to feel some kind of tension. Lots of people do die but it is never for shock value alone.
Now where there some cliches, yes. There where a couple of trappings that you seem to get in these kind of movies. However they were handled well in the execution. Other times things that could have been cliche were turned on their head with some comical spin on things. Yes this had some comedy but I don’t think there was too much of it. I felt like its dark humor was peppered in at just the right amounts between scenes. To give us moments to breathe where things were getting too anxious and I appreciated that.
In terms of overall production. I thought the music was ok and the filmmaking didn’t feel dated. This is about 11 years old now but it felt like it could have been made not too long ago. Well except for those damn flip phones. 😛 Other than that the acting and plot was good. My only big negative is that I do think it could have been like 10 min shorter. Towards the middle it started to feel a bit draggy because there were a couple of scenes that felt completely unnecessary and were just filling up time. Things did get back on track towards the end though and I like how things came full circle during the climactic fight. You could really see how the characters had grown because they were much different from the people you had followed in the beginning.
Other than that small gripe I think this movie is worth checking out. You get both good characters and a cool monster. It has now left me anticipating this director’s/writer’s newest work that will be coming to Netflix soon called Okja. Welp let me know your thoughts and with that I’ll see you peeps next time. ^_^