For the first week of BCM320 (Digital Asia), we took a look at the South Korean monster film ‘The Host’ (2006), directed by Bong Joon-ho. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect before watching the movie. I can’t really say I’m a massive fan of monster movies, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t even seen one since that terrible Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick in it. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t walk away having actually enjoyed the movie overall.
At first I thought The Host would be some kind of cliche horror/thriller movie, with the monster being portrayed as some kind of looming antagonist which doesn’t really get unveiled until towards the end of the movie. But I literally couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m glad.
After introducing some of the primary family characters and laying some framework for 5-10 minutes, the CGI mess which is the films star attraction emerges from the river, going on a rampage which I thought would of been saved for much later in the movie. I’m glad it wasn’t though, as it instantly made the rest of the movie completely unpredictable from then on.
I kind of have to talk about the monster itself a little bit though as it was by far the most entertaining part of the film, not because of the action in the scenes it is featured in or because it is genuinely a good movie monster in general (even though The Host actually does pretty well in those regards), but because of the borderline horrendous CGI used to bring the monster to life. Looking like the mutant offspring of a Koi fish that climbed out from a pond somewhere in Chernobyl and one of those weird demon fish dog things from the first Hellboy movie, the monster from the host captivates you in every scene taking you back to the good old days of PS2 graphics and low expectations.
While the monster may of been the highlight of the movie for me personally, the story and the rest of characters were just as entertaining throughout, and managed to successfully keep the flow of the narrative consistent and engaging. The Host felt like a much more light-hearted movie for the most part, despite the abundance of death and personal loss throughout the film, with comedic elements scattered in scenes which would typically be treated with a lot of seriousness in western films. This tone layered throughout the movie did make me wonder if this is maybe a trope of this kind of Korean cinema, but I would obvious need to dive deeper into the genre to find out if this is the case. And if it were, I would definitely be keen to see more of it.
As for the live-tweeting aspect of watching the film, it was defintely a different experience as it was the first time I’ve even attempted to use the site. It was a bit of a challenge to try and follow along to the films subtitles and while simultaneously live-tweeting my reactions, but I don’t feel like it stopped me from following along with the film or anything like that.
Overall, I found The Host to be a good introduction to South Korean monster movies, which is a genre I’m now glad to discover even exists.
I’d give it 3.5 moist river boi’s out of 5.