The Host (2006): Screw You Hollywood, and your Formulas!

HELLO, YOU.

Since this is my first blog post, it’s only fitting if I introduced myself first!

My love of movies came from my father. So much so I ended up pursuing film as a career some 14 years later. I think my father tried persuading my elder brother, his firstborn, to like what he liked: cars, fantasy, dinosaurs, space, aliens, books, theatre, orchestra music, and my brother didn’t.  But thank my father’s LUCKY stars, because his daughter aka me did.

It all started when Dad brought me to see a movie that quite honestly changed my life: The Lord of The Rings. Oddly enough, it was The Return of The King, and I did not watch any of the two films in the trilogy. But the moment “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields” came on, I was sold. I fell in love with films from then on, (maybe partly due to Orlando Bloom’s handsome elf face as Legolas) and I never looked back. I asked myself ALL the questions: Is there someone behind the camera? How did they come up with Gollum? Is Gollum real? How much time did they spend doing makeup for the Orcs? And most importantly – WHERE DID THEY GET SO MANY HORSES?!

And so after I got my O Level results, I submitted my diploma course “Moving Images” in Temasek Poly to the Singapore education system and never looked back.

OG2hHwW  Yup.

Enough of me, let’s talk monsters.

The Host (2006) is a South Korean film that goes against every. single. Hollywood. conventional. formula. This is called the ‘Classical Hollywood Convention’. Don’t believe me?

  1. Establishment of protagonist: The whole film focuses on the protagonist or ‘hero’, usually male (hero-centered) ✓ (The male lead was lazy and stupid)
  2. Establishment of antagonist immediately: This is very imminent in Marvel films, where you see the antagonist either being created/formed (eg: The Amazing Spider-man) or plotting an evil plan that will destroy the entire universe (eg: The Avengers) ✓
  3. The protagonist’s goals ✓ (Gang-doo did not have any goals)
  4. Waiting until the finale to reveal the monster ✓ (The monster was shown in its full glory at the beginning of the film)

The Hollywood Sci-fi Formula: I’m a huge alien nerd, and most Hollywood alien movies follow the conventional formula very closely. One example is Pacific Rim (2013). A male character “Raleigh”, the hero, overcomes his obstacles to achieve his goal: saving the world.

For point 4, Alien (1979), the sci-fi film that launched a beloved film genre, and also my favourite sci-fi film, had a total of only 3 minutes and 43 seconds of Xenomorph scenes.

 

However, Alien also broke some of classic Hollywood formula, like having a female lead and not ending in a happy ending (The entire team dies except for Ripley and she puts herself to hypersleep, only relying on hope to stay alive).

In my opinion, I prefer the classic Hollywood convention of revealing the alien in the last second, because it adds to the thrill and keeps the audience on edge.

The Male Gaze: Aside from The Host (2006) breaking all of Hollywood’s rules, I love that the males were basically useless and the female characters were introduced entirely differently, each packed with a skillset relevant to the plot, without sexualising either of the characters. The scene where Nam-Joo set fire to the monster with a single arrow brought chills down my spine. The badassery!

tumblr_ogynd3GOa41ut1d6co1_540.gif

Political satire: This was a film that reflected heavily on depicting Americans as the “monsters”, and the power westerners hold over the South Koreans. The recurring Anti-American team was very imminent, and through research, I found out that the plot of dumping the chemical waste into the Han river was actually based in real life. An American civilian mortician, Albert McFarland, who was based at the Yongsan military base,  ordered his staff to pour 120 liters of formaldehyde into the morgue’s plumbing in 2000. This sparked an anti-American uproar as the chemicals eventually reached the Han river,  the source of Seoul’s drinking water (source: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-host-2007)

This was one hell of a monster film, and a refreshing one as well!

 

I’d also be starting a thread of my favourite film from every year I was born in and why, so watch out for it!

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The Host (2006): Screw You Hollywood, and your Formulas!

  1. Totally agree with your 4 pointers on how the host went against classic Hollywood formulae. I preferred the idea of monster attacking the city in daylight, albeit something uncommon. Great work on comparing concepts of movies to this film!

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    1. Adding on to my comment above, I have to say this blog started off very sincere and straight from the heart. Speaking of personal experiences engages readers like myself and feels relatable to a certain level. As a fan of LOTR, Legolas is a sight for sore eyes (yum). Also, great visuals especially a film sequence video from Alien (1973). For someone who hasn’t watched that movie, I am aroused to catch that movie. ” *NO RAGRETS* yup ” <– on point.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that it’s very different from the conventional Hollywood film – which makes it so much better!! And I really like that the film didn’t have a 100% happy ending, it felt more real. With regards to your Male Gaze section, I thought that Hyun Seo played a bigger part of a heroine than Nam Joo who shot the arrow. Afterall, Hyun Seo was the one who saved Se Joo and brought him to safety. It was ultimately her sacrifice and bravery which gave him a life at the end (and he was homeless to start with). Great review though, cheers!

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  3. Totally agree that it went against every conventional Hollywood film! Also loved how you elaborated on the fact that the movie was actually depicting the females as having a more prominent role in either killing or fooling the monster. On the other hand, the males in the movie are seen in a slightly more negative light, where they are either lazy, careless, or always bribing others to get their way. I thought that although the starting of the film put America in a bad light, the later scene where Donald was seen heroically trying to rescue people trapped in an RV balanced the anti-american introduction out.

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  4. “The Host (2006) is a South Korean film that goes against every. single. Hollywood. conventional. formula. This is called the ‘Classical Hollywood Convention’. Don’t believe me?”, The points after this statement are really good! It was simple, and it helped me to understand your point of view. Totally agree to the point of the creature was shown in its full glory at the beginning of the film. Which was unlike any other Hollywood films.
    Love the gifs on your post! Visuals provided got me an overview of what happened, neatly and nicely presented.

    Appreciate the points where you even point out the gaze of the characters. Great observation and good post. Looking forward to more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked the point you made about female characters being introduced differently and how they were featured with a lot of dignity. I was fangirling when she lit her arrow and set the monster in flames too. You know how in some films when you come face to face with a beast and the protagonist tries to appeal to the beast’s humanity to escape the situation or stall just enough for somebody to come to the rescue. I am glad none of that was shown here. Instead we see a capable and resourceful girl fighting for survival and bravely sacrificing to give the kid she found a shot at survival too.

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  6. An excellently written review examining the one of the best monster/horror films, in my opinion. I liked how a comparison was drawn to a classic monster movie, Alien. Both movies had strong female characters and defied traditional Hollywood horror movie conventions. I too, was awestruck by Nam-joo when she delivered the fatal shot to the creature. I especially enjoyed your commentary on the film’s defiance of the classic ‘Hollywood formula’, and how you brought up examples to back your point.

    I also thought it was very endearing that you introduced yourself and your love of movies at the start of your review. It was a nice touch, as it made you more relatable to the readers. All in all, a fantastic review of a fantastic movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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