Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The List: Day 1 (The Host)

So, in the spirit of Halloween I’ve decided to do a “10 Movies I haven’t seen yet, yes I know, no I don’t know why I haven’t watched that yet, I just haven’t okay?” list. Every night I will watch a different movie I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to it yet and then write about it the next day.
I went about this very scientifically by scanning my legacy dvds, perusing my torrent site, and browsing the Horror section on Netflix. What I watch each night will depend on A) How much time I have and B) my particular mood.

Anyway, on with the show! Slight spoilers (mostly about the size and visibility of the monster), but nothing major. The first movie up? The 2006 Bong Joon-ho movie The Host! I know, I know, how had I not seen this yet?? Despite the fact that a good 10% of my jezoween movies are foreign I have to be in a very specific mood to watch something with subtitles because I have a gnat like attention span at times. Regardless, I had been meaning to watch this for many years but it kept being pushed off so I could rewatch Tremors for the 300th time or watch another show about Midgets.

Anyway, the film is part monster movie, part political commentary, and part satire. The basic premise is a land/sea monster runs free in South Korea and one family attempts to rescue a member of their clan. It was the highest grossing movie in South Korea at the time and is relatively unique in its vision. Not only do you see the entirety of the monster almost immediately (and often) but it’s also comparatively small; about the size of a large bus.

It’s also very slightly based on a true story. The opening scene (and the ultimate cause of the monster) is actually pretty closely based on actual events. However, no sea monsters have yet to be unleashed. (Or have they??? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING NORTH KOREA???) It features a lot of commentary (and criticism) of both American military and culture. Due to this it is actually praised by North Korean authorities, a very rare feat for a blockbuster film.Not to be seen as throwing too much shade on the US, we also see the South Korean military as ineffective, apathetic, and mostly useless.

In large parts, the film works. There are some moments that are darkly funny when they should be serious, and some moments that are darkly serious when they should be funny. The main flaw is that perhaps everything is played a little too straight and not self aware. A notch to the left and you’d have a very tight, suspenseful, dark monster flick that subverts tropes and hits you when you least expect it. A notch to the right and you’d have a blackly hilarious satire of a stereotypical monster movie that both addresses the tropes that the genre was built on while at the same time avoiding the very clichés it brings to light.
As it stands it’s somewhere between the two, which weakens it a fair bit. It seemed as if the director couldn’t pick the tone and decided to play with both sides of the fence. 

That being said it still largely succeeds. If you don’t mind strapping in a bit and putting on your safety helmet (the tonal shifts might give you whiplash otherwise) I can highly recommend this. I give this 3.5 out of 5 butts, but they are really cute butts.


design by suckmylolly.com