THE HOST - first impression

Saw a press sceening of THE HOST last night - this is a monster movie from Korea that has been generating some buzz on the Internet, and it's due to come out in the States, probably early next year.

I don't have time to do a full review now (Thanksgiving approaches, after all), but I do want to say I was quite surprised by the movie. From the tidbits I had read, I was expecting a cult movie with non-stop action that would appeal to gorehounds - something along the line of FEAST, which came out on video last month, after a brief round of midnight movie screenings.

Instead, THE HOST (which was called THE CREATURE in its native land) works very much as a drama; in fact, it comes close to feeling like a paranoid liberal conspiracy movie. The film works hard to establish the everyday reality and ordinary life of its protagonists before the monster appears. After it does, the emphasis is on how the government tries to control a potential plague (the creature apparently carries a virus) with no regard for the personal wellfare of its stricken citizens. Mcuh of the screen time is devoted to the film's central family as they try to escape and circumvent the government forces that are trying to quarantine them and thus prevent them from rescuing the young daughter trapped in the monster's lair.

The result is a thoroughly convincing and believable movie with a solid story and sympathetic characters - definitely not a mindless thrill ride. It will be interesting to see how American audiences react to this when it's unleashed upon them.

One other note: playing a brief cameo, Scott Wilson shows up in the film's prologue, as an American army doctor who forces a Korean colleague to pour some toxic chemicals down the drain (inadvertently leading to the monster's creation). Decades ago, Wilson co-starred with Robert Blake in the film version of Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. He also showed up in THE NEW CENTURIONS and in William Peter Blatty's THE NINTH CONFIGURATION and THE EXORCIST III. For some reason, I found it remarkable to see him pop up unexpectedly in a Korean monster movie.