On many levels, “The Host” is an incredible genre entry with the accomplishments to go with it. Loosely based on a true story of a mutated fish emerging from the Han River (it didn’t end up becoming a huge, rampaging beast), the film was the highest-grossing South Korean film in history at that time. there with over 13 million tickets. It succeeds on many levels, anchored by stunning performances across the entire cast. Most impressively, Song Kang-ho portrays the irresponsible but well-meaning Gang-du with deep pathos and complexity, which grows through difficult circumstances. Actors at all levels really land their roles, and Bong Joon-Ho’s choice to bring out the emotions of the situation really grounds and elevates it.
As a creature feature, in several ways it broke what had long become de facto rules of making a great movie. Ever since Steven Spielberg’s masterful “Jaws,” monster movies were meant to hide the monster until the end (if it was ever revealed), an approach Spielberg himself only used to compensate for the technical limitations of the movie. animatronics. So many later creature features followed suit…until “The Host.”
Far from hiding the creature, its sudden, early, full-throated attack in broad daylight showcased the otherworldly creature’s excellent design while emphasizing the beast’s power. “The Host” broke with tradition to tremendous and shocking effect, producing one of the best creature reveals of all time as well as one of the greatest monster movies of all time.
Between the suspenseful narrative grounded in a well-written script and emotionally nuanced performances, the carefully crafted and well-executed creature, its effective cinematography, and its precise overall direction, “The Host” is a movie not to be missed. It features nuanced themes (particularly regarding the South Korean government and its relationship with the US military) that further enhance what would already be a cleverly written cinematic entry. Don’t miss it!