The Host (3 stars)

Monster Movie

(15) 119min

When some radioactive substance finds its way into the water supply, and a huge monster fish rises up out of the peaceful waters around Seoul, a local stallholder’s family is all that stands between imminent disasters.

This likeable Godzilla-style monster movie from the director of Memories of Murder, Bong Joon-ho, is a satisfactory mix of state of the art CGI effects and warm characterisation: he’s clearly a director who cares about his characters, not just what the special effects can do with them. He’s also a great director of the absurd, inopportune humorous moment. The film is full of these little details, as if the director is more interested in the immediate logic of the situation and not the narrative logic that insists such details are irrelevant. The film in this sense resembles Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, as irreverence meets irrelevance, as heroism and assertiveness prove less important than luck and humanity.

Of course, while Bong Joon-ho respects the demands of the monster genre, he no less respects his own need to work with the incidentals and the anti-macho. There’s a very funny moment near the end of the film when the would-be-heroic brother proves as fumblingly incompetent as anybody else, as The Host offers simultaneously the big laugh and the big climax.

Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow; Cineworld, Edinburgh and Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 10 Nov.

The Host (Gwoemul)

  • 3 stars
  • 2006
  • Japan / South Korea
  • 1h 59min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
  • Cast: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park

With a radioactive substance in the water supply, a huge monster fish and imminent disaster, this likeable Godzilla-style monster is a satisfactory mix of state of the art CGI effects and warm characterisation. Attention to detail, absurdity and comic touches deliver the big climax and the big laughs.