The Host

  • Review Date: July 22, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

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;


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.


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


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

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?


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
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:creature violence and language

This review of The Host was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

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

Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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.
Parent of a 11 year old Written byGerald W Bethman Jr. June 17, 2013


21 568 230
What other families should know
Too much consumerism


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

Essential School Tools