Gang-du (Kang-ho Song) works at a food-stand on the banks of the Han River. His daughter, Hyun-seo (A-sung Ko), arrives from school, just as a large, terrifying creature emerges from the river, attacking people. Gang-du and his daughter run for their lives, but the monster grabs Hyun-seo and disappears back into the river. Authorities soon announce that the creature is the host of an unidentified, deadly virus. Having feared the worst, Gang-du receives a call from his daughter's mobile phone; she is frightened, but alive. Gang-du makes plans with his family to infiltrate the emergency zone near the Han River to try and rescue his daughter.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The creature is aquatic, acrobatic but definitely not angelic, in this idiosyncratic mix of creature feature and horror thriller, with a dash of slapstick, and a pinch of black humour. Bong's lively and gripping film plays with the horror genre and pushes a variety of buttons, with issues ranging from environmental carelessness to biogenetics and plain old family conflict.
Lively performances remain grounded, even as the mood changes between full steam drama and moments of bleak humour. The visual realisation of the monster - suggested to be the result of dumping toxic chemicals into the Han river by a US official some years earlier - is technically outstanding. (The work of Australian creature maestro, John Cox.) It is incorporated into the action with seamless grace, and its ferocious power is a potent symbol of nature's revenge against man's folly.
There is some broad humour, even mild slapstick, and enough action to please those who come for the thrills alone. But its best card is its offbeat tone, inventive direction and refusal to toe the genre line - while fulfilling all its genre promises. This makes it unique - a blessing for any film.
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HOST, THE (M)
CAST: Kang-ho Song, Ah-sung Ko, Hae-il Park, Du-na Bae, Hie-bong Byeon
VOICES: Dal-su Oh
DIRECTOR: Joon-ho Bong
SCRIPT: Joon-ho Bong, Chul-hyun Baek, Won-jun Ha
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hyung-ku Kim
EDITOR: Seon Min Kim
MUSIC: Byung-woo Lee
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Seong-hie Ryu
RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 8, 2007