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The Host (Gwoemul)

Film Five Stars

The Host is a film that had been talked about a lot during its production and the teasers and posters I'd seen to date had gotten me pretty interested. So when it was announced for the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year I had to go and see it.

I have to say I was more than impressed with what I saw. The Host is a film that provides something of everything from suspense to terror, from drama to a little touch of comedy, this film has it all. What's more surprising is that it delivers all of them very well and provides great entertainment on the way.

TheHost_Poster.jpgThe opening of the film is perhaps one of the strongest I've seen. Starting with introductions to some of the main characters we instantly get a feel for who they are and what they are about, all the time with a healthy amount of humour. The first appearance of the creature is viewed quite satirically, or rather the peoples attitude and "car crash" mentality is.

Then when it races through a busy park attacking people, it's probably the best portrayal of group blind panic I've seen, and coupled with some excellent edge of your seat and distressing scenes. The shot of the girl standing in shock is one of the most disturbing scenes you'll witness, it's not something you'd expect to happen in a typical film and it's indicative of scenes to come.

Throughout the film you'll be toyed with, there are the usual straightforward scares, and one so effective I leapt out of my seat. There are also moments like the opening one at the park, where the unexpected happens and you really do get a surprise at the direction the story has just taken.

There are other similar incredibly strong moments that will hit you with a shock, and they seem out of place and going against what you believe should be happening. I felt myself looking at the screen in surprise thinking "That's not fair!", and that's a great response to illicit.

The frequent humour is an aspect of the story that is really well handled, it never detracts from other areas of the story, and often helps to relax a tense or distressing moment in order for the filmmakers to return to the situation and build it up again. Sneaky devils.

One of the oddest moments is when the family are mourning wildly in the school hall, this begins sadly and slowly, building in your uncomfortableness and sadness. Then something strange happens, they just manage to tip the performance into humour, just enough to lighten the situation and raise a few sniggers. Then photographers and film crews descend and we're presented with an interesting social commentary, yet you're still feeling the humour of the moment and just coming out from the sadness of the family. It's all wonderfully woven together.

The leads are good, particularly the young girl, Park Hyun-seo played by Ah-sung Ko, who is very convincing and strong in character. At times the emotions she shows are so natural and believable, you'll find yourself caught up in her scenes.

The other characters continually walk that fine line between comedic and serious performances. Each of them have their flaws which are shown throughout the film, but in the end each get their chance to redeem themselves and sometimes they get multiple chances, often they need them too.

That raises another interesting aspect, instead of following a standard route with the characters, their development follows the unusual turns of the film itself and we're treated to surprises and failures when we don't really expect them. Indeed you could almost say that these characters are more human than many fully focussed dramatic character based films.

The creature effects in this film are quite superb. It has weight and a natural, organic movement. So often CGI creatures will appear to run over the ground or not properly interact and collide with real life objects, here though every effort has been made to address this, and it works superbly.

I don't believe I'm spoiling anything about the movie when I say that the ending seems slightly flat against the amount of entertainment that the rest of the film has managed to deliver. It wraps everything up incredibly neatly, with each character having had their shot at redemption. Yet it was a little too neatly tied up for me, although it didn't detract from anything else the film gave.

I'd recommend this film even for those not interested in Asian Horror, for this can't be classed alongside what you would expect from a typical Asian Horror, indeed there's not even a lot of horror. This is a suspenseful, thriller, drama, comedy, you're getting the idea. It's great entertainment with some brilliant moments of shock and terror. Well worth watching.


UK IMDB Film Details
Filmstalker EIFF 2006 coverage
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Comments

Hey, thanks for the review. I was also interested in this movie. I looked for early reviews and found one(http://www.dvdutopia.com/talk/index.php?showtopic=162) that is similar to your views written here. Good!

오크대표 최지연 최 우루크하이 ㄳ 무서우심 두려우심 힘세심 경험치 높으심 혐오스럽심 토나오심 추하심 노파심 수치심
차조심 개조심 똥조심 연필심 샤프심 달심 축구오심 레슬링선수 노지심 뮤지션 노영심 탤런트 고두심 스낵은 농심 커피는 맥심 프리마는 넣지마

The Header of the Orcs - Choi Ji Yeon Choi Uruk-hai ㄳ

korea movie is very nice
for example ... the host, liar, king's man, old boy.......

I from south korea
my name is jangjinyoung
I eighteen years old

The host is peakpoint and strongpoint.

peakpoint is that these firm buy many movieplace.(korea all movieplace 30%)

after all many people watch the movie

therefore other movie is dyning....

strongpoint is both horro and comedy ... ^^good!!

all of korean = patriot

I will follow this movie with interest. Sadly, the chances of it being released in theatres here are not big.

Man I wish I could read Korean...there are sites linking to me from all over Korea at the moment and for the life of me I have no idea what they are saying. One's even copied my entire article - nice.

The Google translator, before you suggest, isn't very good. One appears to be having a personal attack at me for some reason! I think it is the translation software.

Oh wow, I know this is off topic but this last post of Richard reminds me of a Seinfeld episode (The Understudy) when Elaine wanted a Korean translator, and ends up using George's father, you have to watch it, it's hilarious! LOL

Peter says,sadly, the chances of it being released in theatres here are not big.

Fly to the UK then! ;D

As a Korean,im so happy of Gwoemul being releasd in England ... hehe ^.^

Bong directer is very atracktive man ^^
Frankly speaking,he is a comedian ^__^

Hey, Peter, check out

www.rottentomatoes.com

or

www.dvdutopia.com

for Korean film reviews.

The latter seems to be pretty unbiased and seems to give you a good sense of what u really get out of this movie.

Cheers! Luv, Kelly.

Peter, better advice is to see if you can import the film rather than read OTHER film sites! ;) Filmstalker is very unbiased too, and there are asian reviews around here.

Check out twitchfilm.net for better advice than either Rottentomatoes or dvdutopia. Twitch also have some great connections for DVD importing.


I am confused!!! LOL

I am already familiar with Twitchfilm, Rich! Todd is quite a specialist in the field. I will follow the wise advice ;)


Oh my, I'm so so sorry for this crisis. I'm not very sure if you were mentioning me when you said 'One appears to be having a personal attack at me', but if you did, I can assure you that I didn't offend you or mean any harm to you.
Let me explain, please. At first, there was an internet news article about 'the Host being highly praised by the English press'. I just wanted to know if it's true so googled 'filmstalker' and found here. Then I wrote in my personal webblog(which has never been visited by many people) that 'Filmstalker is not a newspaper but a film review site, I guess. The writer doesn't seem to work for the press. So I think that that internet news article which is talking about the English press is kind of bluffing. Darn the yellow journalism. But the review is great.' That was all. If you felt offended by something, it could be the translate software as you said. I truly loved your review about 'the Host' so I linked this article in my post.
I apologize again, I didn't know my small post would cause this confusion. I think some other people in Korea could have done similar googling but I felt guilty. This morning, I felt something's wrong so I closed the post of mine. But if you want my post as an evidence, I can open it again. You can just ask me.(And I think you already know where to find me, right?) Sorry again. And have a good day. I wish ;)

Richard:

The reason that you have Korean school kids coming here in droves is that your excellent review (five stars, eh?) got a lot of media coverage in Korea yesterday. Thank god summer vacation is almost over!

http://kr.search.yahoo.com/search/news?p=괴물%20영국

Apparently, you are identified as the quintessential "British Press," courtesy of our local distributor Showbox. ;-)

Thanks Passerby and Ppangtic.

No need to apologise Ppangtic, and please put your article back online. The offense was caused by the bad Google translation, it seemed to be putting some rather strange phrases in the middle of the article.

I'm happy that so many people are reading from Korea, so please feel free to put the article back online.

Many thanks.

Forgot to say Passerby, thanks for the Yahoo link...not that I can read any of it!

Just want to say HELLO to our new international friends! ;D

It's another good day for FILMSTALKER!

눈화는 세번 봤단다..

Oh Richard, we have to disagree again over a film (though perhaps not quite as majorly as Smokin' Aces). This is one I was looking forward to, and I felt kind of letdown by it. I think it was the humour that put me off in large part, as I thought it was very poorly handled. The latter parts of the film are better but it got off to what I felt was such a sloppy beginning third or so that I never fully got into the rest of it.

Well we can't agree all the time James. I really did love the fact that this film took in so many genres and it worked so well on all of them.

Better late than never...only just bought the dvd of this the other day and must say i really liked it. Some great humour in places and it kept me glued to the screen till the end. Not many films can do that.

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