Parasite director Bong Joon Ho’s delirious comedy thriller takes the conventions of the monster movie and turns them on their head.
A US military pathologist – a member of the large US force that patrols the DMZ separating South from North Korea – orders a vast quantity of formaldehyde to be dumped into the Han, Seoul’s main river. Within a few years, sightings are recorded of an amphibious creature living in the waters. One day, the huge creature is seen hanging from a bridge, before it dives into the water, emerges on a riverbank populated by locals and takes with it Park Gang-du’s daughter Hyun-seo. Bereft, Gang-du embarks on a mission to save her.
Regular Bong Joon Ho actor Song Kang-ho takes the lead in this big-budget monster spectacular. By like all of this leading Korean filmmaker’s work, it’s an unexpected treat. Playing against the tired cliches that have dominated most Hollywood and Western monster films, The Host is fresh and surprising. Like the subsequent Snowpiecer, The Host showed director Bong could work on a larger scale without losing the qualities that make him such a distinctive filmmaker.