Directed by Joon-ho Bong
Starring Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Ah-sung Ko, Du-na Bae
Sometimes a good ‘ol fashion monster movie is just what you want. So here’s one from Korea called The Host.
As much as this movie is about a monster, it is about family. Namely, the Park family. I’m getting ahead of myself. We should start at the beginning.
It all begins with a careless American military scientist encouraging an underling to pour lethal chemicals down a drain. He protests but the scientist slings him some flimsy logic that basically convinces him that the only reason he doesn’t agree is because his mind isn’t as wide as the Han River, the same river these chemicals will eventually drain into.
So, the underling begins to pour the chemicals into the drain and wouldn’t you know it, it causes a fish to mutate and turn into “The Host” that lurks in the depths of the Han River, waiting for a helpless victim.
Now, enter into the picture The Park Family. Father Park runs a snack stand near the shoreline. He works with his slacker son, Gang-du (Kang-ho Song), who spends more time asleep and stealing legs off of roasted squid from the customers than actually working. Gang-du has a bright and adorable daughter, Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko) that spends time in the store. Father Park also has two other successful children, a daughter that is a world class archer (Du-na Bae) and a salary man son (Hae-il Park).
One day, the monster decides to make an appearance and feast on some unsuspecting people near the very snack stand the Park family owns. And, the entire Park family is going to have to fight to survive the arrival of “The Host”.
The Host is a mesmerizing mesh of suspense, drama, humor, horror and some good old fashioned monster movie action. It is like riding a roller coaster of emotion, a rare feeling to experience during a monster flick.
The director, Joon-ho Bong, has wisely learned from the likes of Romero and Craven and has interweaved subtle undertones of political commentary and socio-economic class struggle that makes the whole film resonate even stronger.
The performances are all top notch and the monster looks fantastic, courtesy of the talented folks at WETA and The Orphanage.
So, if The Host is playing anyway near you, do yourself a favor, make sure to catch it before it disappears. It is just another shinning example of how Asian directors are putting us to shame stateside.