Though I have a soft spot for Mothra, I’m generally not much for toxic monster movies but there was something about the quirky sensibility of the trailer for The Host (that probably had everything to do with the fact that its a South Korean film) indicating this film might be something special. It didn’t disappoint.
Formaldehyde dumped in the sewer causes a tadpole-like creature to grow into a huge man-eater which leaves its river home one day to feast on folks out enjoying the waterfront. Among those terrorized are a school girl, kidnapped by the beast as she and her father flee in a crowd. The rest of the film follows her family of misfits as they thwart authorities and mobilize on their own to rescue the girl.
The special effects are great, especially the monster under its bridge lair, swinging and back-flipping like a gymnast on the parallel bars. The family is treated with humor and affection; I was really pulling for these amateur monster hunters, armed with cell phones, a rifle and a cross bow. Adding another layer of excitement, the hunters become the hunted when the government refuses to believe the girl is alive and puts the family under quarantine because of their close contact with the creature. Once freed, the family of fugitives races against the government which is intent on capturing them and killing the beast at all costs.
The Host is thoroughly entertaining and stylishly executed. While it did well at the American box office, I’m sure its just a matter of time before an Americanized version is knocked off, starring a screaming Dakota Fanning with double the violence and gore. And I guarantee Hollywood will demand a different ending.
I give The Host 4 out of 5 orange smoke bombs.