Bong Joon Ho’s THE HOST finally opens in theaters this week after breaking South Korean box office records and getting raves at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. At the start it appears to be just a giant montser movie (albeit an extremely well done one; the creature’s inital appearance is already a classic), but once the thrills die down it reveals itself to be a rather touching and often funny story about family ties and responsibility.
Ho has obviously studied JAWS extremely well, because he follows that classic’s structure to the letter: scare the living pants off the audience from the very start, focus on the characters, and then by the time you return to the scares the audience is completely in your hands. But he’s also proving himself to be a master of writing smart, complex screenplays (for proof, see his earlier efforts BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE and MEMORIES OF MURDER) and it’s Ho’s script that proves to be THE HOST’s secret weapon. Add to this a stellar cast with Song Kang-Ho (who also starred in MEMORIES) and the lovely Bae Du-na and THE HOST is one of those rare movies – genre or otherwise – that works on all levels. For monster movie fans it’s an absolute must-see.
Magnolia Pictures is opening THE HOST in a limited release, so check your local listings to see if it’s playing in your area. And please make an effort to see this movie in a theater, because it’s films like this that really deserve your support. Since the DVD has already been released in Asia there have been a lot of bootleg copies floating around, so if your buddy tells you they’ve already got a copy, tell them that you’re holding out for the theatrical experience. Trust us, THE HOST is worth it.