Host, The (Guimul) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/11/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Enjoyable monster flick in the tradition of Tremors, with strong characters, superb special effects and a sharply witty script.

What's it all about?
The Host is the second feature from pleasingly-named director Bong Joon-ho, following 2003's Memories of Murder. After a prologue in which an American scientist forces a Korean lab assistant to pour dangerous chemicals directly into the Han river, the film skips forward a few years (via an amusing interlude in which a fisherman is bitten by a tiny, unseen creature) when a giant, mutated (and entirely CGI) creature crawls out of the river and starts eating people.

When the monster nicks off with a young girl (Ko A-sung), it's up to her noodle stall owning grandfather (Byun Hee-bong) and the rest of his dysfunctional family to get her back. Meanwhile, the American military decide to quarantine everyone who comes into contact with the monster, believing it to be carrying a deadly virus.

The Good
The genuinely scary monster is a superb creation, courtesy of Peter Jackson's chaps at WETA – it even has a spark of personality, which leads to some nail-bitingly tense scenes that are darkly funny at the same time.

The script is excellent, poking fun at a whole host of clichés (such as the archery fanatic daughter who just needs to get over her hesitation problem) and adding a dash of political satire (the fact that the virus doesn't exist; the military deploying 'Agent Yellow') for good measure.

The Great
The performances are excellent and the film, for the most part, is a huge amount of fun, packed full of scary moments and hilarious gags. That said, it's clear that several of the jokes are a lot funnier in Korean, while the film drags a little in the middle before rallying with an exciting finale.

Worth seeing?
A beautifully made, thoroughly enjoyable monster flick with moments of comic genius. It'll be interesting to see what Bong Joon-ho comes up with next.

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Host, The (Guimul) (15)
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 15:24

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