The Host Movie Poster Image

The Host

(i)

 

South Korean creature feature is wild and witty.
  • Review Date: July 22, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The central family counters the officials' deceit and oppression with displays of courage, loyalty, and intelligence; homeless kids and man are brave in the face of danger.

Positive role models

Korean and U.S. officials (police, media, medical, military) commit illegal acts and/or engage in cover-up;

Violence

Multiple attacks by monster. It chases, terrifies, eats/chomps, throws/drops, and dismembers human victims; dog attacks owner; suspected infection victims are dragged off in plastic bags (resembling body bags); humans fight monster and each other with guns; brief scene shows brain surgery (some cutting and drilling); Nam-joo shoots monster with arrows; homeless man pours gasoline on monster so flaming arrow can light it on fire; children confront monster in sewer (dark shadows, tense moments, brave kids); memorial services and mourning; sad scene showing a child's death.

Sex

Brief reference to an ex-wife who "popped out the baby and ran off" brief shot of girls' legs under a table.

Language

In subtitles: several uses of "f--k," plus other language ("s--t," "god damn," "bastard," and "bitch"), as well as "Jesus Christ."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Homeless man is drunk on soju (Korean rice-based alcoholic beverage).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that creature-feature loving teens will want to see this movie, subtitles or no. If they go, they'll see plenty of scenes of the half-fish, half-reptile monster chasing, attacking, eating, and ripping up its human victims (its lair is filled with corpses and bones). In fact, the CGI-heavy violence is so excessive that it ends up being somewhat comedic. Humans use a variety of weapons against the monster (and each other), including guns, arrows (some flaming), and gas. The government lies about a virus and then assaults demonstrators with a toxic gas called "Agent Yellow." Some mourning scenes show characters crying over lost loved ones. Subtitled swearing includes multiple uses of "f--k" and plenty more salty language.

What's the story?

A sinister U.S. military pathologist (Scott Wilson) instructs a minion to dump formaldehyde into South Korean waters. This act produces a ghastly mutation -- part fish, part reptile -- that emerges from a river in broad daylight and attacks a crowd, killing some and kidnapping others. Among the abductees is 11-year-old Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko). At first, her family -- including her father, Gang-Du (Kang-ho Song), and grandfather Hie-bong (Hie-bong Byeon) -- grieve along with other similarly afflicted Seoul citizens. Carted off and quarantined for possible monster contamination, Gang-Du is despondent until he gets a cell-phone call from his daughter, who describes the place where the monster has dumped her as a "really big sewer." With that, Gang-Du -- with help from his father, unemployed brother Nam-il (Hae-il Park), and champion archer sister Nam-Joo (Du-na Bae) -- sets off to find her, no matter what lies the government tells them.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The top-grossing movie in South Korean history, THE HOST (Gwoemul) is a wild, rewarding ride that's equal parts creature feature, cautionary tale, family melodrama, and political critique. Its influences are many, from Godzilla, Jaws, and Alien to The Thing and Sally Mann's photographs.

While the Parks' adventure follows some conventions (family bickering and bonding, inscrutable monstrosity, institutional obstructions), Joon-ho Bong's film offers all sorts of brilliant visual surprises. Hyun-seo and her family are courageous. Looking small in her schoolgirl's plaid skirt, the girl makes her way through the shadowy underground, her face smudged with grime, determined to combat the creature as it threatens a very frightened younger boy. At once poignant and grim, she's a terrific young heroine.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about monster movies. What's the appeal of creature features like this one?\ Families can also talk about the Parks' bravery. What brings them together with unity and purpose?

  • How does the movie update and also pay homage to classic monster movies that warn against human carelessness and arrogance, like Godzilla?

  • Are the characters in this movie being warned against anything? What could the creature be a symbol of?

  • How does Hyun-seo become a hero in the film, rather than only a victim?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 8, 2007
DVD release date:July 24, 2007
Cast:Ah-sung Ko, Kang-ho Song, Doona Bae
Director:Joon-ho Bong
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Horror
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:creature violence and language

This review of The Host was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Boisterous, spectacular remake of 1933 classic.
  • Brilliant, poignant fairy tale isn't for kids.
  • Violent updated classic could be too intense for young kids.

For kids who love A little wit with their monsters

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byrhizobium October 12, 2009

10 year olds might love it though...

over used CGI.. turned horrific scenes into comedy...some nice parts ..overall just ok, reccomended to watch only when bored to death and have nothing else to do...
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008

The Host

This movie is just alot of fun. It's original, suspenseful, funny, even a bit emotional near the end - just an all-around great monster flick. Recommended for those who want something different AND extremely entertaining.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement