Sep 07, 2006|
When a US army base disposes of formaldehyde into the Han River, a large, hideous mutant emerges to attack the riverside and abduct several victims, including middle school student Park Hyun-seo (played by newcomer Ah-sung Ko). It swallows its victims whole and regurgitates them later at its lair. When Hyun-seo’s lazy father Kang-du (Kang-ho Song, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) realizes that his daughter is still alive and not digested in the belly of the beast, he—and the rest of his oddball family—set out to save the girl in spite of government warnings to stay clear.
With a plot like this, director Joon-ho Bong (Barking Dogs Never Bite) is obviously aiming for a B-grade feel. But unlike most B-grade horror flicks, this one has characters that you actually find yourself caring for. The Park family are very likable, even though, or because, they’re some of the most hopeless “heroes” ever. Between Kang-du falling asleep in during crucial moments in his search for his daughter, and his gruff brother Nam-il (played brilliantly by Hae-il Park, Memories of Murder) threatening to beat up anyone and everyone, you’ll spend most of the movie being bemused by them than being terrified of the actual monster (which really isn’t all that terrifying to begin with).
It’s these quirks that make the Parks so appealing. The chemistry between the cast—which also comprises Du-na Bae (Tube) as Kang-du’s mousy sister Nam-ju and Hie-Bong Byeon (Detective Mr. Gong) as his long-winded father—is genuine and heartfelt. They fight, they bicker and yet they love each other—just like any real family. Bong’s style doesn’t particularly stand-out though, with the exception of a couple of scenes, the most memorable of which being when the Parks are attacking the mutant creature at the bridge. But with a superbly talented cast behind him, his performance looks greats anyway.
B-grade horror is only the setting for The Host; its real strength is the oddly funny, yet somewhat heart-warming, story.