The Host

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Host Movie Poster Image
South Korean creature feature is wild and witty.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
Parent Written byPlague June 9, 2010

The Host

This is a perfect monster movies for teens.
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 d... Continue reading
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... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love A little wit with their monsters

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