It’s considered a bad idea to dump hazardous chemicals down your drains. Those chemicals you dump down the drain can end up back in your drinking water, or they can get into the local water table. When a tidy mortician orders his assistant to dump his concoction of chemicals into the sink because they have too much dust on them, and are obviously “dirty”, bad things start going on in Seoul’s Han River in the 2006 Korean movie The Host (aka Gwoemul).
At first, a few fishermen see some crazy little “mutant” fishing around while they’re out casting their lines. A little later, some people enjoying some free time on the river see a strange thing hanging down from underneath a bridge. Before you know it, that strange thing turns into a giant monster that rampages the riverbanks looking for a meal. While feasting on the locals, Gang-du Park (Kang-ho Song) – a local slob who can’t even stay awake working for his dad’s concession stand – gets in on the action, and tries to get away with his daughter, Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko). Unfortunately Hyun-seo gets eaten up by this monster and dragged away before her father can do anything to even attempt to save her.
Just when Gang-du and his family think that all hope is lost, they get a fuzzy cell phone call from Hyun-seo telling him that she’s alive and she’s somewhere in the sewer. Too bad everyone thinks that Gang-du is crazy, so it takes them forever before they start to believe him. even at that point, only his family thinks he’s teling the truth, and everyone else thinks that because he was in contact with the monster that he’s probably infected with some sort of virus that’s afflicting one of the first American responders to the monster crisis. The rest of the film is spent with Gang-du and the Park family trying to track down Hyun-seo before it’s all too late.
Sean: I’m not a huge monster movie fan, but I’ve enjoyed some of the more modern ones, like Cloverfield. I thought this had a similar vibe, in that they were both searching for a member of their family and they both refused to give up until they found them, regardless of the condition of their loved ones. Aside from that, this movie had a whole group of genres all contained in the 2 hour run time. At times it’s a monster movie, other times it’s trying to be a suspense movie, a drama or even a comedy. The comedic parts helped lighten the mood of this otherwise depressing movie, but I thought it always was at it’s best when it was staying with the monster movie theme.
Raz: I saw the trailer for this movie on G4 and I really wanted to go see this movie in the theater. When I was a kid I loved Godzilla movies and when I saw the trailer for this movie it brought me back to my childhood. Unfortunately, I never did go to the theater to see this movie. That is ok though because I probably would not have lasted through the two hour show time. This movie started out alright. You have two morticians cleaning up some chemicals in their mortuary. The one mortician notices several bottles of formaldehyde are dusty and demands that the other mortician dump them down the sink. This guy must have had OCD or something. Dump the bottles because they are dusty? Not only is that a dumb reason to dump the chemicals but it is very wasteful and bad for the environment. I guess they had to set up the monster creation somehow.
Sean: I wasn’t in love with a lot of these characters at first, especially Gang-du, mostly because he’s a huge whiner for most of the movie. Over time, though, I started to get attached to them, and you feel bad for them. A reoccuring theme that I noticed is that just when things start going good, someone (usually Gang-du) does something to mess up everything. He gives his pre-teen daughter a beer, or he grabs the wrong girl, or he miscounts how many shells are in his shotgun, but in the end, he comes through big time.
Raz: The characters in this movie did not really interest me ether. Gang-du is the laziest and the dumbest guy ever. How he ever convinced a woman to have sex with him is far beyond my comprehension. Somehow he did and this resulted in him having a daughter. How she survived under his care is another mystery of the world. Needless to say he bumbles threw the whole movie getting people killed or severely hurt.
Sean: I really thought that overall the special effects were pretty good. At times the monster sticks out and looks too slimy and doesn’t fit into the surroundings, but at other times it looks really convincing. I enjoyed this movie, but I think in the long run, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it were about 20 minutes shorter. Again, I also thought it was a lot better when it layed off the comedy and stuck to the main story. I don’t think all the comedic elements should have been cut out, because it helps paint a better portrait of each character and how they fit in the family, but I think at times it was a little overboard. The Host earns 3 slimy monster tongues out of 5 from me.
Raz: Overall I liked the movie. I felt the movie was a little too long and I got a little lost in some parts. The monster looked alright, but just like many Asian cinemas the CGI is not the greatest. I would give The Host 3 out of 5 also.