Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.
The film revolves around Park Hee-bong, a man in his late 60s. He runs a small snack bar on the banks of the Han River and lives with his two sons, one daughter, and one granddaughter. The Parks seem to lead a quite ordinary and peaceful life, but maybe they are a bit poorer than the average Seoulite. Hee-bong's elder son Gang-du is an immature and incompetent man in his 40s, whose wife left home long ago. Nam-il is the youngest son, an unemployed grumbler, and daughter Nam-joo is an archery medalist and member of the national team. One day, an unidentified monster suddenly appears from the depths of the Han River and spreads panic and death, and Gang-du's daughter Hyun-seo is carried off by the monster and disappears. All of the family members are in a great agony because they lost someone very dear to them. But when they find out she is still alive, they resolve to save her. Written by
Funny, scary, emotional, intense, thrilling, sad. And then funny some more.
What else is there to say? The Host elicits every feeling, every sense of urgency, dread, sadness and happiness with ease. And somehow it manages to cram all of that into the first fifthteen minutes. After that it speeds along and doesn't let up. I was with it till the end, laughing when I was supposed to, crying, and even cheering. It is one of those rare films that blends all the respective genres into one with an almost scary simplicity. I shouldn't be surprised, it is from writer and director Joon Ho Bong whose last films the equally brilliant Memories of Murder and the excellent black comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite featured a similar feeling.
How does the man do it? Like with his other films particularly Memories of Murder he manages to break the conventions of the genre by frequently poking fun at the rather stale "monster" genre and by taking a fresh, appealing perspective. It's funny at all the right moments and even in moments when you feel you shouldn't be laughing you cant help but laugh. It's full of vibrantly realized characters, who each have their "moment" that make you laugh at the ridiculousness or gasp at the coolness. It is written with care and love, the pace never stagnates and the dialogue is never forced. The CG monster effects are nice and appropriately unrealistic in appearance. Perhaps too unconventional for American audiences but it really works in the context of the films rather serious yet quirky atmosphere. The acting is excellent, Kang Ho-Song continues to impress, star in the making Ah-sung Ko gives a very good first performance, and the rest of the cast give great performances. All managing the frequent dips into serious and comical and even both at the same time.
The Host is a brilliant, brilliant film. I'm so pleased I had the pleasure of seeing it at the cinemas, the way it deserves to be seen. Despite fitting into a rather common genre, The Host is an original. It is a unique and refreshing film, full of charming characters, awesome action sequences and even an emotional poignancy that weaves itself into the film at the most appropriate of times.
The Host is undoubtedly my favourite film of the year and one of the most entertaining films I have seen in recent years. If you like your films to be highly enjoyable, but also smart and even emotional, you will love what The Host has to offer.
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