Saturday, February 24, 2007

Review: The Host

A Chungeorahm Film/Magnolia Pictures release 2007

Directed by Joon-ho Bong

Writing credits:
Chul-hyun Baek
Joon-ho Bong
Won-jun Ha

A mutant emerges from Seoul's Han River, attacking people and dividing a family.

When it was released in its native country of South Korea back in summer of 2006, The Host quickly became the highest grossing native film of all time. It was also one of the most expensive, running somewhere around 10 million (which may seem petty by Hollywood standards but was a big deal in Korea). I would say it was worth every penny. The Host is easily one of the best monster films of the past decade, and will certainly gain its proper place amongst fans of the genre, as well as casual moviegoers. Director Joon-ho Bong has crafted a unique film that is both tense and witty, with a political conscousness to boot. While not all of the story elements or special effects are quite perfect, the film is effective in drawing suspense out of the lurking presence of the monster, rather than through quick shocks or visual gross outs. The result is a little page out of the Jaws textbook; fear comes from what you can't see, not what you can.

The movie also has some interesting politics. Normally monster flicks align our viewership with the media, military agents or special-ops teams. In The Host, government media and the military are not only ineffective, but actually worse than the monster itself. The film depicts a world in which the average middleclass citizen is succeptable to all sorts of interruptions, intrusions, and invasions from Big Brother figures not only from the homeland, but foriegn as well. Though not too heavily fleshed out (I mean, it's still a monster movie for christ's sake), the film's message remains relevant and clear: goverment needs to learn to work for the people, not against them.

Though it ultimately may be a B-movie, The Hostis a highly entertaining and thought-provoking film. It further proves that Korea is a new hot-spot for cinema. I whole heartedly reccomend it.

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