16. The Host (2006, Joon-ho Bong)

In the old days, monster movies were different: all you needed was a man in a suit, maybe just puppets and basic small characters made out of spare parts for a monster movie. They were cheep, cheesy, dated yet enjoyable: a marriage of B-movie style filmmaking and good fashioned entertainment. However modern monster movies have raised the bar considerably, The Host being one of them. Although its heavily political, not too subtitle and meaningful commentary on the US’s presence in South Korea is obvious, it also gives stark meaning to a film that is at times rather frightening, other times very emotional and engaging. The family unit comes under attack in this movie, and their only response is to hide at first and then attack and fight back, refusing to give up any hope of staying together as a group. Its that extra dynamic that makes The Host a first rate horror movie, a monster film with heart and soul that drew me in and stayed with me endlessly.

Sure the monster is CGI, but its also rather freaky, especially with its first attack on humans, a scene that takes place in daylight so that you can witness the beast in all of its raw fury. A risky gamble sure since the monster could have been taken as silly, yet this creature feature’s animal is born of environmental violations committed by scientists who failed to realize the ramifications of their actions. One scene has an American scientist arrogantly ordering a Korean scientist to commit awful violations that echo throughout the movie, especially since the monster results in quarantines that tear people apart. The Host despite its flaws and limitations is still a monster movie with purpose, an element that has been featured in so many of the good films of its kind the sub-genre and also in horror movies in general.

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