You don’t have to be a film student to enjoy international cinema. The Host (Korea, 2006) tells the usual tale of polluted water creates mutant that wants to attack humanity. Based, as you probably guessed, in the Korean Seoul's Han River, the monster quite quickly attacks and causes fear of a virus that affects anyone it touches, although if it touches you it’s probably trying to eat you, thus a virus isn’t that scary in the greater scheme of things.
The plot centres on a family as the protagonists; one is the victim, who the monster catches but the family go in search of her believing her still alive.
However, this film does not keep the characters conventional. True for a film there must be some evidence of individual talent but they are human and make very human mistakes as if they were truly trying to fight a monster with no knowledge of combat before. The main hero Gang-Du, is ridiculed for his apparent stupidity, but the script never gives him a pivotal Einstein moment where he becomes the worshipped hero. He just becomes accepted and continues how he is.
My favourite part of this film is tied between the actual monster; which is literally a big fish who flops around with arms and feet (not even legs, just feet) chasing screaming people, or the portrayal of Americans; wait till you see that sexy cross eyed look for scientists in charge of everything.
Trying to say something bad about this film is difficult, it is a horror but it has that continuous Korean humour that will emit a few giggles between the gasps and ‘almost’ screams because we wouldn’t be foolish enough to scream at a film...
The Host is technically engaging too; to keep the stupidity of Gang-Du the timing of shots is used to extract intense emotion from him. This tends to be slowing most things down but it works, the heartbreak in his eyes is drawn out in the harrowing moment as he sees the monster grab his daughter.
The film is obviously trying to be political, and as a friend said, “I do not want to ruin it by trying to analyse the messages,” and I refuse to do that for myself or for you. But I will say: Ungraceful, slimy monster that can barely keep itself upright when it runs about causes mayhem and governmental disarray in a few days.
Even if horror isn’t for you, just watch this film because it animates so many emotions within you. How many horror films can claim that? Get it on DVD for £4.99 on Amazon.co.uk.