Continuing the invasion of Asian cinema upon the western world is The Host ( Gwoemul ), this time the quality coming from Korea.
An unusual beastie, The Host is a politically-flavoured creature feature favouring social commentary over action set-pieces. From the off it is clear this is no Alligator or Anaconda , the formaldehyde-dumping opening taken directly from a real life–and well publicised–incident in 2000. Of course there is no evidence of it creating a mutated newt-like creature. Yet.
Said mutated creature is the central figure of The Host 's plot, emerging from the Han River and wreaking havoc upon the inhabitants of Seoul. However, much like Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds and M. Night Shyamalan's Signs , it is not the overall focus. Instead, we are treated to the intimate story of the monster's effect upon a single family.
It all begins when the youngest member of the Park family is swiped by the big bad beast. Up until this point the Parks were an ordinary family, living ordinary lives. With their mundane existence shattered they band together to take down the mutant, no matter who stands in their way.
Unfortunately the who just happens to be the government, announcing that the monster is the carrier for a new strain of virus, leaving the Parks the unenviable task of battling two beasts: the mutated monster and the government that swears it is trying to protect them.
It's not all doom, gloom and serious subject matter though, with writer/director Joon-ho Bong ( Memories of Murder ) finding ample time for laughs, scares and carnage in equal measure. Bookending the film, the two main action scenes – The Host's initial attack and the family's final confrontation with it – are wonderfully realised, breathtakingly kinetic and brutally authentic with a genuinely pervading sense of terror and panic.
Successfully blending several genres (horror, creature feature, dysfunctional family comedy, political satire) Joon-ho Bong has created an original and captivating piece that will satisfy the cravings of every type of film fan. So move over Godzilla, there's a new monster terrorising the town.