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Review: The Host

movie reviews Updated: Sep 10, 2011 13:45 IST
Hindustan Times
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The Host
Eagle Home Entertainment, Rs 99
Rating: ****

We knew that the South Koreans have picked up where the Japanese had left off in the horror movie genre. But the monster-disaster film leaves its very own stomp in Bong Joon-Ho's fantastic movie, The Host (Gwoemel, or The Creature).

The film starts in a grubby-looking laboratory (oddly grubby for Korean standards) in which we see an American military pathologist telling his assistant to dump hundreds of formaldehyde bottles into the Han River. The consequence of this act are sort of obvious to the viewer, but nothing really prepares us for the mixture of surreal horror and the deranged comic that follows. A few years after the dumping of the chemicals in the river, a strange amphibious creature is spotted. We meet a family of a takeaway, one of whom is carried away by the mutant monster. All this may sound camp and bordering on the parodic. But what we get is genuine mute button-pressing shocks along the way.

The teenage girl who has been whisked away by the monster and is trapped in the sewer manages to contact her family through her mobile phone that is on the verge of dying. So it's a rescue movie to boot. Along with the excellent special effects — and the creature has a very high slimy quotient indeed — what makes this film stand out is its additional layer of paranoia. The government is fudging about the truth. And the beleaguered family is headed by a slow-witted man who comes in for a radical change in the end. For those who thought that the Jurassic Park movies and the 1998 Godzilla were 'shut-the-door-and-run' worthy, this is the real beast. Even as it plays with your head through the movie.