Gwoemul (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Excerpt: Bong Joon-ho s Gwoemul (TheMessage 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2007View Source
Bong Joon-ho's Gwoemul (The Host, 2006) is terrific stuff, as much for being a family movie as for being a horror flick, but that's pretty much the secret appeal of almost any classic creature. James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) is really about parental responsibility and the neglect of the offspring; Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is about the abused child's development of an operating moral sense; Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong (1933) isn't so much a love story as it is a cautionary fable about a big brute's hopeless infatuation with (what else?) an airhead blonde (that's why the remake's so lame--it insists on being a love story); Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks' The Thing (1951) is about maintaining efficiency in the face of human weakness and overall chaos; Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) is about the impotence of human hubris (it's also about accepting a new and unlikely member into a rather ingrown family); Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) is about obsession and the comedy of male bonding. The creature (and the special effects used to create it) may be what draws the audience in, but it's always the human element--either suggested in the creature, or found among the victims or pursuers--that people savor and remember.
In Bong's case, it's about a dysfunctional family finding its priorities and learning how to operate as a unit. The slow-witted, blond-haired Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) runs a food stand alongside the Han River with his father Park Hee-bong (Byeon Hee-bong) and daughter Park Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-seong) when a monster rears out of the river and starts chomping down on innocent bystanders. Seems that many years ago an American military pathologist ordered his lab technician to empty a hundred bottles of formaldehyde into the drain, which apparently has a mutating effect on the riparian marine life (why that would be I'm not sure--formaldehyde's been dumped in water before, and I have yet to hear any recent news of giant mutant lizard-frogs walking the planet). Hee-bong and Gang-du escape, but Hyun-seo is snatched at the last minute by the monster's wonderfully prehensile tail to be snatched away, presumably eaten.