The Host (Gwoemul)


Nobody does nasty water better than the Koreans. Even the benign Han River that flows through Seoul can be made to look menacing in the pouring rain with a suicide hanging over it. Another thing I love is that they get straight into it and waste no time letting the horror begin.

Gwoemul (which means monster) is directed by Joon-Ho Bong and stars Song Kang-Ho, who worked together on one of the best movies ever made, Memories of Murder. So expectations are high.

The Parks are probably one of the most hilariously dysfunctional screen familles ever. Grandad Hee-Bong (Beyon Hee-Bong) runs a noodle stall by the Han River, with his narcoleptic son Gang-Doo (Kang). Their pride and joy is Gang-Doo’s pretty young daughter Hyun-Seo. Gang-Doo’s siblings are Nam-Joo (Bae Doona), an Olympic archer, and Nam-il (Park Hae-il) , an educated wastrel.


It’s a movie that never makes it easy – it’s all fun and games until you realise, with a shock that takes you out of your seat, that the unthinkable has happened, and your cosy Hollywood expectations are about to be trampled.


This is no “Look, aren’t we clever” CGI monster meant to amaze us with its technological magnificence, like King Kong, but it is no man in a suit effort either. This is a wild animal, unleashed from the water, looking for food and completely unaware that its prey thinks it is a superior species. It is awkward on land, slithering about and crashing into things, but it’s sleek in the water, its own environment, and damn skilled on a bridge, turning somersaults and flipping about like an athlete. In short, it is more Alien than King Kong, and a brilliant creation.



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