I knew very little about this film going into it, and I feel like that deepened my enjoyment of it. For that fact, I won’t be delving into major story points. What I can tell you is that The Host is centered on the Park family living in Seoul, South Korea: lazy son Gang-Du (Kang-ho Song), who sleeps often but is devoted to his daughter Hyun-seo (Ko A-Sung); his sister Nam-Joo (Bae Doo-na), whose claim to fame is being a celebrated archer; alcoholic brother Nam-il (Hae-il Park); and patriarch Hee-bong (Byun Hee-bong). One day, their life (as well as the rest of the country) is uprooted by a mysterious monster that emerges from the Han River and brings death and destruction in its wake.
The film’s pacing may put off some viewers, but I found it to be emotionally rewarding. The first act of the film is fast-paced and action-packed, while the second act is much slower-paced and focused on each family member’s strengths and weaknesses and their love for each other. Twists and turns are uncovered in the narrative, and added a compelling mystery layer to the movie. The third act picks up again, and delivers a gut-punch of an ending.
The acting is solid and, for the most part, believable. A few moments felt over-acted, but the majority of The Host was full of poignant, strong performances.
Even though this is quite a dark film (both tonally and visually), there are moments of brightness and hope enmeshed within that bring a breath of fresh air to the movie and further add to the emotional impact.
I loved The Host, and even though it won’t appeal to everyone, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a film centered on family with an intriguing story to back it up. The pacing will turn some off, but if you can persevere and enjoy the ride, you’ll be rewarded for your patience.
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