Favorite

Mutant Ninja Tadpole 

Only a threatened American remake could kill 'The Host'

If you've been perusing movie Web sites, you probably know about The Host, a box office bonanza in South Korea is making its way to our shores. This is not your standard monster movie, and I must admit that it caught me off guard. It's the first really cool giant reptile (well ... mutant reptile) film in many a year.

A dad (Kang-ho Song) sits with his little girl watching a family member compete in an archery competition on television. He leaves his home briefly to serve food on a beach, a beach lined with people curious about something hanging off a bridge. That something is huge, green, and impossible to identify. It jumps into the water and everybody goes back to his or her business. Then, the ruthless bastard comes ashore.

What follows is a chase sequence for the ages, setting the stage for a sick-in-the-head monster flick made by filmmakers shooting for quality with their horror. It looks great, the acting is superb, and it also manages some good laughs. The moments of slapstick in the film are perfectly modulated, and come as great relief after seeing various humans enter the monster's digestive system.

The Host has a retro-Godzilla premise. This time, rather than being the result of atomic energy, the monster is born from an American scientist ordering the dumping of chemicals into the Han River. The beast itself looks like a mixture of tadpole parts, Predator and my former pet iguana that used to fuck my shit up with his tail when I tried to hold him. It's a CGI creation, and I loved the way it blended into live action, especially in broad daylight.

Director Bong Joon-ho isn't content to come up with a creepy creature and go for the standard scares. In fact, much of the fright in his film doesn't come from sudden-jolt horror tricks. The scariest parts of this movie occur when the monster is seen a mile away, bounding toward its prey. I especially liked the way the monster used its tail to swing from one end of a large bridge to another.

The soundtrack is nuts, a mixture of strings and brass by Byung-woo Lee that is completely unexpected. If somebody played this music for me, then told me to picture a mutant tadpole/lizard thing bounding about eating people, I'd be confused. Yet, somehow, the music blends perfectly with the action.

Without giving too much away, the film also owes a little bit to James Cameron's Aliens because kids wind up having to hide and survive from the monster. I remember the late Gene Siskel knocking Aliens for showing a child in peril. This film would've really pissed Siskel off.

Much of the film focuses on a family trying to rescue a relative, and this works toward creating characters that are sympathetic and fleshed out. There are actually a few good jabs at the United States in the film, from the American scientist with no regard for the environment to the American doctor using hospital patients as guinea pigs. The Korean government takes some hits, too, so the film is an equal-opportunity offender.

Last year gave us The Descent, and now we have The Host. Nice to see some directors don't need to follow the formula and collect their check when it comes to horror films. Internet buzz states that Universal is, of course, planning an American remake of the film. Considering how the original ends, it will be interesting to see if any American director has the balls to be faithful to the finale.

The Host
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Nun Sense

    The Loft screen’s a documentary about a Tucson nun’s experience with a hallucinogenic in the Amazon
    • Dec 10, 2015
  • Krazy Kaufman

    Charlie Kaufman delivers his mind-blowing cinema craziness in animated Anomalisa
    • Jan 28, 2016

What others are saying (1)

The Coast Halifax The Host I predict a run on novelty contact lenses by Jacob Boon 03/28/2013

The Range

The Lowdown on Sonoran Brews

Cinema Clips: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

More »

Latest in Cinema Feature

  • Dead on Arrival

    New Ghostbusters can’t scare up laughs
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Creature Feature

    ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ ain’t exactly a dog of a film, but it’s not the cat’s meow, either
    • Jul 14, 2016
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation