Why “the host” is the defining monster movie of the 21st century

A monster's attaông xã in "The Host" forces Nam-Joo (Bae Doo-Na) & her family khổng lồ fover for themselves.

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A horror thriller, a political satire, a dysfunctional family comedy, and a touching melodrama, Bong Joon-ho"s "The Host" is also one helluva quái vật movie. It"s the recombinant offspring of all those science-fiction pictures of the 1950s and "60s in which exposure to atomic radiation (often referred to lớn as both "atomic" & "radiation") or hazardous chemicals (sometimes also radioactive) results in something very large and inhospitable: "Them!" (giant ants), "Tarantula" (giant spider), "Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People" (giant fungi), "The Amazing Colossal Man" (giant bald guy), "The Giant Behemoth" (giant behemoth -- both giant và a behemoth, but more precisely a radioactive sầu ocean-dwelling Godzilla clone), "Frankenstein Conquers the World" (giant Frankenstein"s quái thú atomically regenerated from the beating heart of the original Boss after the A-bomb is dropped on Hiroshima), & so on.


In "The Host" (a k a "Gwoemul"), the mutaren is a simple aldehyde, HCHO (possibly even a radioactive variety). The movie opens in the year 2000 at the Yongsan U.S. Army base in Seoul, where an American mortician (the always superb Scott Wilson, clearly having fun) orders a Korean subordinate to dump dusty bottles of "dirty formaldehyde" into lớn the sink ... which empties inkhổng lồ the Han River. When the underling objects, the American insists, "The Han River is very... broad, Mr. Kim. Let"s try to be broad-minded about this." Had Al Gore been present, he would have sầu made a persuasive sầu counter-argument with colorful charts and graphs about the dangers of poisoning our fragile planet, but an order is an order, so down the drain the noxious stuff goes.

(This scene is based on a notorious incident involving Albert McFarland, an American civilian mortician at the Yongsan military base, who in 2000 ordered his staff to lớn pour 1đôi mươi liters of formaldehyde inkhổng lồ the morgue"s plumbing. Although the chemicals passed through two treatment plants before reaching the Han, source of Seoul"s drinking water, the scandal sparked an anti-American uproar in South Korea.)

At the movie"s center is the Park family, a clan no less eccentric than the Hoovers of "Little Miss Sunshine." Patriarch Park Hee-Bong (Byun Hee-Bong) runs a snachồng stand down by the river with his dim-bulb son Kang-Du (Song Kang-Ho). His other son is a chronically unemployed no-goodnik, Nam-Il (Park Hae-Il), from whom he is estranged. But if the boys in the brood are underachievers, the girls are something else: Their sister Nam-Joo (Bae Doo-Na) is an acclaimed archery champion, and Kang-Du"s daughter Hyun-Seo (Ko A-Sung), an adorable plaid-skirted schoolgirl, is the táo of everyone"s eye.

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When the quái dị nabs a Park from the shore (in one of the best fleeing-in-panic crowd scenes ever filmed), the clan reunites to lớn seek revenge. If only they can fight their way through the political red tape. The government"s response khổng lồ the monstrous threat is an American-backed disinformation chiến dịch about an outbreak of "Asian flu" virus that, as is so often the case with official lies, only serves to exacerbate the real Terror.

The creature -- just lượt thích (spoiler warning) the Moroccan kids who accidentally shoot the American employer of the Mexican nanny with the rifle formerly belonging to lớn the Japanese businessman with the deaf daughter who is sexually provocative in "Babel" (over of spoiler warning) -- unknowingly precipitates an international incident. And in the ensuing pandemonium, the Parks are forced khổng lồ fend for themselves.

But about the monster. Created by the San Francisco-based FX house, The Orphanage, it is a creature of scary amphibious loveliness, with greenish salamanderlượt thích skin, froggy legs & webbed feet, và a pinkish vagina dentata maw that resembles the primary orifice of an Arrakis sandworm, but with extra mandibles and barbed lip-flaps around the opening. (Nice serpentine tongue, too.) This is the most hideously beautiful movie-trùm cuối since H.R. Giger"s Alien, equally ferocious and hard khổng lồ kill, but with a poignant side. It is first seen (almost not-seen) hanging from the underside of a bridge like a fruit bat. A giant fruit bat. And, it turns out, it can not only swim và crawl & hop, it can swing và flip like an acrobat, using its tail as a trapeze.

The movie itself is no less dexterous (though it sags in the middle), twisting suddenly from horror khổng lồ pathos lớn comedy to action & bachồng again, as the Parks (individually và collectively) battle the forces that would tear them apart -- forces that not only include a giant mutant river trùm cuối, but hazmat teams, the police, mad scientists, government conspirators, và an American chemical weapon called "Agent Yellow."

Like its magnificent beast, "The Host" is wild, crazy, messy, preposterous -- and all the better for it.