With Halloween just around the corner, the local cinema will surely be packed with the usual horror releases. The monster movie genre can go from sublime to cheesy. When it's done right though, you can get an exhilarating film. One such example of this was a Korean film released way back in 2006 called The Host. It's a movie I would most certainly recommend any monster fan to check out.
Korea is well known for its gritty action show-reels, Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance trilogy containing Oldboy is one of the most critically acclaimed trilogies around. The Host does well to follow those footsteps and created one of my personal favorite monster flicks.
The film follows the journey of a father, Gang-du, who sets out to rescue his daughter, Hyun-seo, with the help of his father and siblings after she managed to survive the initial attack by the monster. The origin of the monster is explained as the result of scientists dumping formaldehyde into the local river, hence the creation of the amphibious monstrosity.
Director Bong Joon-ho does a fine job in capturing the panic and terror of all those in the film. The opening attack, in which Hyun-seo is taken away, is the film's best scene, and the moment when she is finally taken away as the helpless father looks on is truly heartbreaking.
I'm not the biggest follower of Korean movies, so I can't comment on the actors involved in the film — I haven't exactly followed their careers prior to the film! Song Kang-Ho — who plays the emotional father determined to find his daughter — does an outstanding job. His character isn't the smartest, but you can tell he is doing the best he can. The reason why he loses his daughter in the first place is due to his clumsiness, but you can't help but feel sorry for him. The entire family is a bit rag-tag, save the older sister, the rest are not the most reliable of characters. However, they band together to save their family. If the audience does not connect well with the family, the film would break down, so everyone does a fine job portraying their desperation.
Most of the film's best scenes are shot in the sewers, the monster's lair. This is where the film does its best work, as we follow young Hyun-seo trying to outwit a monster, who unlike many other monster movies, isn't just a dumb creature. It's more of a battle of wits. The film also has its share of action, where various people are in direct combat with the fiend. The action is far more intense, as these are not trained soldiers, but everyday civilians taking up arms against the creature.
If you can look beyond the dated 2006 CGI and the language barrier, you have a wonderfully intense monster flick that doesn't really get the credit it deserves in the West. If you're looking for a film to watch over the Halloween weekend, do try to find this gem.
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What did you think of this Korean creature feature?