Well, my friends, it’s finally happened. I’ve finally, legitimately fallen asleep during a theater screening of a movie (though I saw it again in its entirety, just for you). Whenever I go to a movie, I am either excited because I expect to see a good movie, or I am excited because I expect to see a bad movie, which are generally more fun to critique. Alas, I’ve seen a film that has fallen completely off the wrong end of my double bell curve. What film could have evoked such an uncharacteristic response, you ask? Behold! I have seen the lowest of the low, and its name is The Host.
The Host is an adaptation of a Stephanie Meyer novel of the same name. Upon reflection, I should have never expected anything above the caliber of the Twilight Saga from Meyer, but excuse me for having a little faith in humanity. Indeed, it will probably shock you to hear that The Host is even worst than Twilight, which was presumably a metaphysical impossibility. Director of Lord of War (2005) and writer of The Truman Show (1998) Andrew Niccol, both directed and wrote the project, and I only hope that he will still be able to get work in the industry after the unmitigated catastrophe that is The Host. To me, it seems almost as though Niccol had never seen actual humans interacting, and had only heard about the concept of social interaction through bad manga. I almost feel a little betrayed here. Here’s a guy who wrote The Truman Show, ostensibly a good movie if you’re into that kind of thing, and he turns around and vomits this onto the screen; I don’t mean to be cruel, but that’s almost grounds for crucifixion.
Casting is a downright sin, with the chemistry and general acting ability of almost all of the characters falling on the wrong side of atrocious. I’m tempted to compare the (supposedly) romantic relationship between the Sairse Ronan’s Melanie and Max Iron’s Jared to the relationship between Padme and Anikin in Star Wars Episode II- even worse, perhaps; it’s the kind of hard to watch, forced, amateur dramatics of a middle school production of Romeo and Juliet. Even in a general sense, the characters interact with one another as though they’ve been kept in solitary confinement since birth. I remember vividly, as several points during the film, various characters unhesitatingly punched Melanie in the face, on sight, with no context whatsoever. It reminded me of the unintentionally hilarious remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicholas Cage in which he brutally punches defenseless (though deserving) old ladies in the face on multiple occasions.
The plot is simplistic, yet never varies from a single, unvarying tone, like a concert where the bass player plays one, unaccompanied, continuos note for two hours. I think that, more than any other factor, was the one that contributed the most to my somnolent infraction. Between the monotonous action (if one can call it action) and the half baked romance, all of which were done unapologetically straight faced, the two hour run-time was akin to a brutal and unforgiving slog through the darkest recesses of movie hell.
Like some of Niccol’s other films including Gattaca and S1m0ne, The Host makes a flirtation in the direction of a stylized aesthetic, but instead of achieving the desired visual unification, it just comes across as extremely arbitrary. Why, for instance, is all of the technology used by the aliens chrome? It’s never explained and never commented on and it’s almost as though the immediate concern of an invading alien civilization was to redecorate. This, among many, many, other things, adds to the general incoherence of the proceedings.
I lament the fact that I will never get those two hours of my life back. If any good were to come of this film, it will be many years from now in film schools, as it’s pointed to as a veritable checklist of what not to do. Perhaps some day, The Host will be put on a pedestal and join the cult of heroically bad movies, like Troll 2. But, as Aragon would say, charging the Black Gate of Mordor “It is not this day!”
Rating: 1 out of 5
Note: Please do not confuse Andrew Niccol’s The Host with Joon-ho Bong’s 2006 korean monster movie The Host, which is incidentally an infinitely better film.