The Host | Chicago Reader

The Host

119 minutes 2006

Quite possibly the wisest, most moving monster movie ever made, Bong Joon-ho's feature deservedly became South Korea's biggest ever box-offce success. Six years after the U.S. army poisons Seoul's Han River, a giant lizard-like creature emerges and rampages along the banks. It may carry a lethal virus, one the U.S. decides it's responsible for eradicating. Among the monster's prisoners is a young girl, and her colorfully dysfunctional family—her narcoleptic father is mildly retarded, his educated brother full of resentment, the grandfather stubbornly conservative—must scheme against a repressive state apparatus to rescue her. Bong's film brilliantly mixes frights, gentle humor, outrageous Grand Guignol, and sharp political satire: you don't have to look hard to find a disquieting allegory about real terror, state-imagined terrorism, and local resistance. In Korean with subtitles.

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