Review: The Host

“On Par With Jaws” – Harry Knowles, Aint It Cool News.

“A Knockout Monster Movie” – Leah Rozen, People.

“A Seriously SCARY Freakout” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

“What movie did these other people see, because the one I saw was some fucking bullshit.” – Dark Icon, indarkness

You’ll see this movie at your local video store. It’s a fairly new release at the time I’m writing this, although I’ve been seeing it on the shelf for a while. It’s got an awesome cover with a giant tentacle snatching a little schoolgirl into the water, and the above quotes telling you how fucking awesome it is.

On the back, it’s got tiny pictures of scenes from the movie. Those pictures look pretty good. They also feature a lot of Koreans.

Ahh, so this is an Asian movie! Can’t really tell that from the front cover, but okay…

Ordinarily I pass on Asian movies because I’m a racist bastard I don’t read movies, I don’t speak Korean, and I like the sounds I’m hearing to actually match what’s happening on the screen.

But they compared it to Jaws! And its got a tentacle on the front, and anybody who’s read any of my stories knows how much I love tentacles. So I rented it.

Now, not only do I want my money back, but I want the people who actually reviewed this piece of crap taken out and shot, and then I want their life insurance money seized and given to ME to compensate me for the hour and a half I wasted because of them.

Is this a bad movie? Umm…kinda. The production quality was good and the special effects were eye-catching, so at least it wasn’t a CHEAP bad movie, but this movie and “Jaws” are so far from each other that they may as well be in different planes of reality. Maybe it’s a DIFFERENT “Jaws” they’re comparing it too… I dunno. Did Japan have their own version of “Jaws” or something?

So what “The Host” about? Some evil and/or incompetent scientists dump some chemicals in a lake and, surprise!, a giant monster spawns and attacks the local population. Unlike “Jaws”, this creature doesn’t lurk half-seen beneath the surface, but comes RIGHT out in the open in front of a crowd of spectators and starts chomping on random halfwits who don’t know enough to run when they see a monster… and even those who do. It doesn’t actually EAT them right away, but instead it either swallows them whole or uses its prehensile tail to carry them back to its lair in the sewers. There, the ones that it actually swallowed are regurgitated (usually dead, but not always) into a pit where the monster can find them later for a midnight snack. One of the unfortunate victims is a young girl who’s family is determined to get her back, despite the government quarantine.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? No, I’ll freely admit that the premise is creative and visually the movie is kinda impressive.

I wish Hollywood had made it.

Because Hollywood might have actually done it with real actors… and it would have been in English.

What’s wrong with this movie?

The main characters are retarded. Either that, or they are very poorly acted. Either that, or their behavior is perfectly normal for this movie’s intended audience (ie, South Korea) and us Americans just interpret them as being morons. The scene with the grieving family literally rolling all over each other on the floor of a public place is just… I dunno… was that supposed to be funny? I assumed it was. I laughed. Was I supposed to? I couldn’t tell. And I think the character of the father was actually SUPPOSED to be mentally challenged to some degree, and that didn’t help matters.

Some movies (“Scream” and “Slither” come to mind) actually pull off mixing horror and humor very well. It helps when you KNOW that’s what their doing ahead of time. Here, either this movie was supposed to be funny or the acting and cultural differences made a serious movie seem like a half-assed Godzilla satire. If it was supposed to be funny: it wasn’t. A few chuckles here and there is all I got (with one exception: The Empty Shotgun scene was hilarious. Unfortunately, I think it wasn’t supposed to be). If it was supposed to be serious, then this is pretty much an Epic Fail.

I really only have two criteria for movies:
1) Have A Story.
2) Don’t Be So Bad That It Distracts Me From #1.

This movie has what would have been a kickass story if the actors weren’t rolling all over the floor trying to out-retard each other. As I said, I can’t tell if it was the actors or the culture differences, but “The Host” pretty much had me cringing and groaning at times when I was supposed to be emotionally involved with the grieving and/or adventurous family. I ended up just wanting more people to die, which, unfortunately, didn’t happen a lot in this film. Aside from the initial rampage, the body count is a bit too low for my tastes. The entire movie should have been like the first twenty minutes. THAT would make this review entirely different.

As it is, I would have been better off just turning the sound completely off and watching the images on the screen. I honestly think I would have gotten more entertainment out of it then.

What I liked about this Movie-

+5: Good Special Effects
+5: Decent story
+5: Monster rampage out in the open, in broad daylight!? Awesome.
+1: Guns that actually run out of bullets!
+1: The “Spitting on the Sidewalk” scene. That one was actually on-purpose funny, and it worked.

But then-

-10: Bad acting (or decent actors in a horrible script, couldn’t tell which)
-10: Retarded heroes just don’t do it for me. Entire retarded FAMILIES is a show stopper (unless they’re cannibal mutants).
-5: Funny that wasn’t funny. (Or serious that WAS funny, couldn’t tell which)
-5: Not enough monster rampage. Body count is too low. Why is this movie rated “R”?
-3: I don’t read movies, I don’t speak Korean, and lips that don’t match sounds are distracting.
-3: No hot chicks. None. Zero. I kept trying to make the sister hot, but it just wasn’t there.

And of course, the numbers don’t actually mean squat. Just pass on this one. Or watch it with the sound off. Any time you see someone crying, just fast-forward.

OH, one more thing. The little girl that got taken? SHE was actually the best actor in the film. She should learn English and move to Hollywood.


3 Comments

  1. udgang99, November 3, 2007:

    Dude, you really ought to be more open to forign movies. I know it can be a bitch to have to “read a movie” (for anyone else, I’m danish, and I’m used to read movies), but sometimes (or actually, very, very often) the best movies are NOT made in Hollywood – or even in an english speaking country. Personally, I’m getting more and more sick and tired of Hollywood movies, because they all follow the EXACT same mold, that they have been cast by for the last centry. There is no “danger” or “edge” – it’s all so god damn predictable – we all know that the hero will save the day in the end, and that no real harm will come to him, or his family, or whatever. The good thing about a movie like “The Host”, is that it’s made on the other side of the world, and thus made from a completly different set of rules and norms. I didn’t think it was a great movie, but it was okay, and I DO actually encurage people to watch it … if they want to see something other than the braindead stereotyped clichéd garbage … this might be garbage too, but at least it’s not stereotyped – just look at the ending. When I saw it with my GF, after it was done, she was all “… but … but, it can’t end like that?! … but the little girl …*gulp*” !!!

  2. DarkIcon, November 3, 2007:

    Ah, but that’s the problem. As much as I hate some of the crap Hollywood puts out, it doesn’t automatically make me like non-Hollywood stuff. A Hollywood movie can be bad for any number of predictable reasons. An independent and/or foreign film can be just as bad… usually for different reasons. The fact that it’s an entirely different kind of suck doesn’t make me like it more.

    What I’m after is a good story that doesn’t get stepped on by bad implementation. Here, the implementation may not have been “bad” so much as it was “different” but it still got in the way of the story… so I can’t honestly say that I liked it.

    I loved the ending, BTW. And the beginning. Both were very non-Hollywood. It was everything in between that I didn’t care for. It too, was non-Hollywood, but in a bad way.

  3. udgang99, November 3, 2007:

    If you haven’t allready seen it, you should check out Oldboy, another korean movie … this one dosen’t have retards rolling on the floor, though. It is, in fact, a very, very cool, grusome and fasinating story.

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