Several weeks ago, in my ““Snowpiercer” review, I mentioned wanting to see “The Host”. I usually read a bunch of reviews before writing mine, and all of the “Snowpiercer” pieces I’ve read mentioned the director’s previous film, how good and unique it was. I’m usually not one for “monster movies”, but this one caught my attention and I decided to give it a try. Below are my impressions of the movie, and I’d very much like to hear yours since I’m a newbie in this genre.
“The Host” follows the story of a monster that emerges from Han River and viciously attacks people. Gang-du and his father, Park Hee-bong run a snack shack near the river, and when Gang-du’s daughter Hyun-seo is taken by the creature, the family gets together and do whatever they can to rescue her. Our first introduction to the monster is in one masterfully shot scene that makes even people who aren’t big fans of this genre get hooked on the movie. While the monster attacks people and destroys everything in its way, the people still stop to watch instead of running for their lives. This is such an accurate depiction of what would happen if this scenario actually happened in real life, as we’re always captivated by disaster.
Bong Joon-ho is known for giving a deeper meaning to things in seemingly superficial movies. “Snowpiercer”, for example, could be seen as just a simple action flick, but brings some very interesting discussions about social dynamics and capitalism, for example. “The Host” is really similar in the way it discusses the toxic influence of humans in the environment, and how greed can be destructive to the planet. I’ve been reading a lot about this movie since I watched it, and apparently there are many other parallels to South Korea’s history, particularly relating to the United States’ interference in the country. The opening scene, for example, is based on actual events that happened in South Korea, when an American mortician instructed his workers to dump chemicals down the drain. The monster part thankfully didn’t come true, but the blatant disregard to nature and the people around it is clear, and can be observed throughout the movie.
Even in the midst of loss and chaos, this movie manages to have some funny moments. Having a dysfunctional family be the center of the picture was a wise choice, as the dynamics and relationship between them moved the narrative forward in a very organic way. The fact that they weren’t the happiest and closest of families but got together and made some sacrifices to save the daughter was an interesting touch. They didn’t actually care about the monster, or about killing it. They only cared about getting Hyun-seo back, which was very touching. As with “Snowpiercer”, the end wasn’t that satisfying, but stayed true to what was being build during the whole movie. I enjoy Bong Joon-ho’s way of twisting expectations and making it work in a way that may not be the nicest one, but that makes sense with the narrative.
I highly recommend watching “The Host”, even if you, like me, isn’t a big fan of monster movies. I feel like I’ve grown too accustomed to the Hollywood way of making movies, which has a tendency to deliver everything and not give you so much room for thinking (which is not a bad way, just one way), so it’s been a nice experience seeing movies such as this one that even in a seemingly superficial genre can bring so many different nuances and discussions.
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