The Host (Gwoemul) Movie Review: The Host is a great South Korean monster movie. It pays homage to Godzilla. Americans may not get it due to cultural differences (Rotten Tomatoes’ critics rating = 92% vs fans rating of only 69%) and dark humor, but I loved it. The Host is impossible to label, which explains why some Americans don’t dig it. Is it action? Horror? Sci-fi? Comedy? Drama? Thriller? Satire? Adventure? It’s all of that, so eat it.
The Host is a great modern monster movie. The special effects are fine for 2006, but the story and family are very engrossing. There’s a reason why The Host was a box office smash hit in Korea. There’s also a reason why it’s been taking so long to make an American version: Americans are not the target audience for this film.
The Host succeeded in stirring my emotions: I laughed at some Asian jokes, got angry at the evil U.S. military, and felt sad when family members died. The little girl (Ko Ah-seong) had a very strong acting performance. Song Kang-ho of course, is a superstar in Korea. I liked his work in The Good, The Bad, and The Weird. It should be noted that Korean cinema is a crown jewel of the Asian film industry in terms of production, originality, and directing.
The monster itself gets plenty of screen time and displays some original powers (agility!).
So what’s the message of The Host? American foreign policy interferes with South Korean way of life. Maybe our foreign policy officers should heed that.
Ironically, I learned more about life in an enjoyable way from a popcorn foreign monster movie than The Tree of Life. Did I mention that The Host is a FUN yet serious monster movie that never takes itself too seriously but never insults or offends my intelligence? The Host keeps you drawn in even with the cheese. Amazing, huh?
If you are tired of Hollywood, give Korean movies a try. The more you watch, the more you will begin to get their pop cultural references and customs.