Movie Review: The Host

April 04, 2020

Who among you have not watched Parasite yet? Yup, I am referring to that history-making movie that received the Best Picture award in the most recent Oscar ceremony. It is the very first non-English movie to receive that recognition. Bong Joon-ho, the film director, became a household name among everyone who has seen the film. Among the articles and forum threads that I have read online, several people have pointed out that Joon-ho's signature styles can be seen in the Parasite movie, and so I was curious to see his other works. Thus, we land to The Host.

The Host is a monster movie, released in 2006, about this fish-like creature that evolved from toxic wastes in the Han River of Seoul, Korea. It started attacking people, and the story followed a father, together with his family, as he did his best to rescue his daughter that was taken by the monster.

I don't usually watch movies like this because I know things can go as violent as possible (and I mentioned before that I could only muster gore in some level), but I must say I am thankful that this is not as bad as I thought it would be. It's kind of amusing to meet Song Kang-ho (송강호) again, the same actor who played father also in the Kims household in the Parasite movie, playing yet again as a great father in this one (although faced with a tragic fate again). 

And the people in the forums were right -- Joon-ho has those signature styles in his works. Below are some of them, including scenes that moved me in this film:

  • This is the second time I have seen a movie sequence wherein in the most action-packed and intense scene, the background music is some energetic classical music. I don't know how to explain it, but I think it gives a comedic effect for the scene.
  • One second you are laughing your ass off, and then immediately on the next frame you freeze, as if someone slapped you out of nowhere.
  • There's this scene wherein  with one final move, the main characters would finally achieve redemption... and then the unexpected happens, and you just go 'whaaaat! you stupid!' and then seconds after you are clapping and more excited as ever as another character comes to the rescue.
  • (Spoiler alert!) That scene with the grandfather is just so heartbreaking -- his last gestures to his children is so heartwrenching.... this is a monster movie but I cried so hard because of this scene. 💔 
  • That other kid with Hyeonseo was so adorable. I want to have a child like him. I'll give him all the food that he'll crave.
  • The scenes involving the community in Seoul is very similar to the current situation of the world -- there's this "rumor" about a virus and everyone was wearing surgical masks as a precaution. And then here's this guy coughing heavily among a crowd, and then actually takes off his mask to spit??!! Like wtf. And then a second later, I was laughing so hard. I would never wish to be part of that crowd.
  • The film has subtle political scenes, like that English-speaking doctor that inspected Song Kang-ho's character and advised the Korean doctors to check his brain. Another was when the scene showed soldiers chilling and having a barbecue party just outside the hospital tent where Kang-ho was being heavily tormented because of the numerous medical procedures being done to him. The disparity of the atmosphere shift when Kang-ho escaped from inside to the outside of the tent was just unsettling... I couldn't shake it off my system. During that moment, I was one with Kang-ho as he desperately ran away to save his daughter.
Overall, I loved the film. There were so many unexpected subplots, especially for a monster movie. I think the movie didn't centralize really with the monster but with the people and their behavioral tendencies when placed in this kind of situation.

It holds true with our current reality unfortunately. People will prioritize their self-interests among anything else. It's sad, but it's an eye-opener of what humans will do during desperate times.

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