The Host (Korea)
I bought this Korean horror gem this weekend at Target for $15. How could I pass that up? I saw it on Netflix last year after hearing a lot about it, and I'm just going to say that it's probably in my top 10 monster movies of all time. I loved it. I know a lot of people who hate subtitles (which is ridiculous), but I think even without the subtitles and not knowing Korean, the message comes across clear enough: Monster attacks city, steals little girl, takes her back to his lair to eat her, she hides from him, the girl's dad will stop at nothing to get her back. I just realized I used male pronouns for the monster the entire time. Does that make me a monster sexist? Maybe.
I just watched half of the movie again tonight. I forgot how funny and endearing it was. And how good the cinematography is. I guess I don't really think of Korea as a great producer of films, but this one is very well-made. All the actors do a great job, the monster is a great use of special effects, the humor translates well. The man character, the dad with blond hair, is especially compelling. He's funny but clumsy and always well-meaning. I would like to see that actor in another role, to see if he keeps up that bumbling oaf complex or switches it up. The little girl is cute too. (I'm avoiding writing the names because I know I won't spell them right.) The way she's able to evade the monster, even when all the adults around her get killed is awesome.
So basically I have only praise for this one, which makes the review probably a lot more boring than the normal reviews. But I really recommend it to anyone, even casual fans of Asian horror. It's not scary, but that's not really what it's going for. It's a monster movie, and let's face it, monsters in this vein of cinema haven't been scary since maybe the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The only "monsters" that people are still honestly fascinated by are the Universal monsters, Dracula and possibly the wolfman. Vampires have really come into fashion lately, so that's what everyone finds to be scary or sexy or romantic or whatever. But why does it have to be that way? I'm not saying that the weird fish/lizard/frog monster in The Host is sexy and romantic, but I would say he (or she) is at least interesting and different. Why can't that be scary to us anymore? Remember in the 50s when giant fake lizards and Godzilla and giant spiders and stuff were scary? I admit I wasn't around in the 50s so I guess I don't know for certain whether people were actually frightened by these things, but if they weren't, then why did this become a subgenre in horror? I'm just saying that someone needs to bring back the monster movie, and if anyone is taking any forward steps in that direction, it's definitely The Host. It's such an old story, the whole kidnapped-by-a-monster thing (Beauty and the Beast? etc), but the way it's told in The Host is very fresh. The humor lightens it up, and the filmmakers really know how to make sure people really care about the little girl who is kidnapped. I won't spoil the ending, but you will want to watch it again.