The mission of this site is to review not just “good” movies, but “so bad they’re good” movies. So when I heard that “The Host”, a film adapted from the Stephanie Meyers book, I knew I was in for either a horrible treat or the most excruciating two hours and five minutes of my life. As you know, Ms. Meyers wrote the “Twilight” series and it’s obvious that Open Road Films was hoping for something of equal quality. Of course, that could have been achieved by filming an adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” with “Octomom” Nadia Suleman starring as Juliet. What they ended up with was something so subpar it actually had me longing for two hours of Playstation 2 looking wolves, vapid dialogue and Robert Pattinson’s blue-ribbon-winning-pumpkin-sized noggin.
To recap this movie is not unlike recounting how your scoutmaster fingered your bottom at the last jamboree. I’d imagine.
A parasitic race of aliens, known as “Souls” have invaded Earth and taken over the bodies of most humans. They believe their goal is a benevolent one: they live as their hosts do, but make improvements to their lives. Most of the time, when a Soul takes residence in a body, the human inside disappears. However, other cases are different. Case in point: Melanie (Saoirse Ronin) is a teenage member of the human resistance, who is captured by the aliens. She is implanted with a Soul named “Wanderer”, whose mission is to scour her memories and give up the location of other humans. But Melanie is strong. She manages to hang on to her half of her mind and like “The Man with Two Brains” or “Innerspace”, her voice distracts and ultimately convinces “Wanderer” to help rather than hurt her cause.
She/they/it escapes from their futuristic alien iHospital/prison in search of a human safehouse in the desert. When they get there, “Wanderer” must convince her host body’s Uncle Jeb (William Hurt), leader of the holdout, that Melanie is still alive in her head. In time, she gains the trust of the humans, earns the nickname “Wanda” and joins their cause. But a relentless Soul named “The Seeker” (Diane Kruger) will stop at nothing to hunt Wanda and her human friends down in the name of control.
Of course there’s a love triangle (or quadrilateral) between Wanda/Melanie and two horny generic A&F model looking douchebags. There’s Jared (Max Irons) who loved Melanie before she became an alien parasite and Trevor (J.D. Evermore) who loves what’s inside: a white glowing tentacle’d centipede kind of thing. I’d like to tell you if I’m Team Jared or team Trevor, but I really couldn’t tell them apart aside from the fact that one wore filthy blue clothes and the other wore filthy brown clothes. I guess I’m on Team Filthy Brown, because his stupidity and blind love of a space insect made him easier to laugh at.
Not that there wasn’t plenty to laugh over. Melanie’s inner voice was as indecisive as any confused teenager, but presented with an unnecessary urgency that changed it’s mind whenever it best fit the story. For example, she’d tell Wanda not to tell such and such a person that she was alive inside the body. Then three scenes later, for no apparent reason, she’d say “Tell him!”. In the occasions where the story clearly had no direction, she’d say “It doesn’t matter if you tell him or not.”
There’s also a point in the story where Melanie “disappears” for a few days. It’s never explained, but it’s a great opportunity for Wanda to try and find her by kissing both Jared and Trevor in hopes that her host will be angry that she’s kissing a boy. I swear I’ve seen this exact device used in porn movies, just not with kissing.
Andrew Niccol, who helmed “Sim0ne” and “In Time”, directs “The Host” with about as much skill as a film school freshman. The uninspired screenplay (which he also wrote) provides wooden dialogue delivered through cardboard performances worthy of a skin flick. I couldn’t tell you how many times the audience laughed at the way something was said or the way it was worded… and this was an audience made up of teen girls!
But to his credit, Niccol may have done humanity a service as “The Host” is proof to malevolent extraterrestrials that the human brain just isn’t worth jumping into.
The effects were decent – maybe a step above the sparkly vampire crap, but still cheesy and in many cases incomplete. The main way to tell a body that’s hosting a soul is by looking into its eyes. The irises glow blue, not unlike someone hopped up on Spice from “Dune”. But there are plenty of wide shots where the filmmakers either forgot to add the blue effect or just didn’t want to spend the money on it. I doubt anyone cares as they’re likely too busy scoffing at the stupidity of the film as a whole. There are also some missed opportunities with chases that play out like OJ’s freeway crawl and tensionless foot pursuits.
After much deliberation between myself and the parasite in my brain that feeds of garbage media, we’ve agreed to give “The Host” half a devil. This falls under “So bad it’s bad” and may have been the first movie I’ve seen where the audience applauded because it was over. With a story and acting that’s a smidgen below straight to DVD Sci-Fi fare, I couldn’t possibly recommend wasting money to see this in a theater. But if the stars are aligned and it’s playing on HBO while you have a group of intoxicated friends in your living room, and you’re searching for something that will make you feel dumber and more effeminate for having seen it: give it a shot.
But don’t blame me if someone throws a bottle at your TV.