Before I begin this review, let’s go through a little backstory. Once upon a time, I had the night off from work. So at around 4AM, I was wandering around Wegmans, when I stopped at the Redbox machine to check out the new releases. One of the movies I happened upon was The Host, the most recent Stephanie Meyer adaptation, which inexplicably bombed in theaters, despite being marketed to the Twilight fanbase, who’s standards are nowhere near as high as I have to be to get through their precious movies.
My first reaction, upon seeing this, was “That looks like shit, there’s no way I would watch it.” Then, when I was walking away, I had my second reaction; “That looks like shit. Maybe I should watch it…” My love for bad movies won out over my love for good movies, albeit not by a huge margin, and I wound up leaving with the flick in hand.
At around six o’clock, I called one of my friends at work, who was nearing the end of his shift, and asked him if he was in the mood to watch a really shitty movie. He said, and I quote, “I’ll be right over.” Not long after, we’d each downed a few shots, and gathered a few beers, and began our cinematic adventure through the mind of one lonely, lonely mormon housewife.
One of the best things about The Host is that in a matter of about four minutes, it tells you exactly whether or not you’ll enjoy the rest of the movie. Our story begins with a bit of exposition that’s actually quite well done… We’re told about the Earth’s invasion, but we’re shown one of the more important details, that once an alien has taken over a human’s brain, you can tell by their blue eyes. This is an obvious reference to the Aryan race that the Nazis promoted, and on paper, it’s a pretty good reference… Like the Nazis, these aliens are a nihilistic race who believes in the annihilation of any being that they deem lesser than them.
It completely fails in practice, however, because of the existence of colored contact lenses. Yeah, Meyer didn’t think of that, did she? I mean, it’s bad on both sides… On the one hand, anybody on the aliens side could wear brown, hazel or green contact lenses to explore and infiltrate possible enemy hideouts, where they’d be welcomed with open arms. On the other hand, since the aliens are completely polite and agreeable… At least when the script call for it… Survivors with blue contact lenses could infiltrate them, pretend not to have any emotions, and do all sorts of damage to their enemy. If this issue had been addressed in the story, it would have been… A slightly less awful movie.
After this brief scene is wrapped up, we see a teenage girl of average build… In other words, too fragile to play any sort of co-ed sports… Running away from several alien adults. They surround her, and she fends them off by attacking them with what appears to be a flashlight. She then runs away, and throws herself through a window, resulting in a fall that, ten times out of ten, would have killed John McClain. Yet, she not only survives, but looks mostly unscathed for it. And get this: She survives because her will to live is too strong.
Like I said, four minutes in, and you know exactly where you stand. At this point, you’re either saying
A: This is stupid, I’m turning it off.
B: This is stupid, give me more!
C: I’m too stupid to know the difference.
I found myself firmly in the B category, even upon further (sober) viewings.
In any case, an alien is placed inside the girl’s brain by another possessed human… Which begs the unanswered question, how did the first human get possessed, I mean, someone would have had to be cooperating to insert it… And we learn that her name was Melanie Stryder, a name that will enter the Lame Name Hall of Fame right next to Sparks Moran, Touch Connors, Black Belt Jones, Constance Justice, Anastasia Steel, Sol Badguy, and Sasha Fierce. The alien inside her wants to be called Wanderer, as she tells Seeker… Yes, there are a bunch of other seekers, like Seeker Pavo, Seeker Reed, and so forth, but she’s the only one who’s just called Seeker. I can’t count the number of problems with this naming convention, but I’m guessing Namer, Dubber, Christener and Moniker have one hell of a tough job.
By the way, if you think the name “Wanderer” is funny, just wait until you hear the “short” name that she gets later in the movie. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing, although the booze might have had something to do with it.
Melanie’s consciousness survives the possession, as Wanderer searches her memories, giving Seeker a detailed account of Mel’s relationship with a boy named Jared, who she fell in love with after he met her, forced a kiss on her, and tackled her, which is okay because he turned out to be human. I’d very much like to harp on Melanie’s attraction to a boy who’s first impression was more than a little rapey, but I’m honestly more surprised by the fact that Seeker wants to hear all of this in the first place. Seriously, all she wants is the location of the rebel base. Can’t you fast forward through the unimportant memories? Or is she just as starved for uncomfortable paranormal rape-fantasies as the Diabolik Lovers fanbase?
So Wanderer feels sorry for the human race’s plight, escapes from whatever facility she was being kept in, which makes no sense, as her entire species has already determined the human race to be obsolete mostly in part to their irrational emotions. And no, we never figure out why she was so easy to manipulate. Melanie tricks her into heading toward the base, they argue, they spectacularly crash the car, and both somehow survive the wreck. Because she loves life so much, or something. Melanie tricks Wanderer again into walking off into the desert, instead of following the road… Cause that’s what smart people do… And from there, we embark on an adventure filled with unlikeable characters, ceaseless melodrama, constant plot holes, senseless decisions, and romantic dialogue painful enough to make George Lucas weep.
To it’s credit, this is a very good looking movie. The camera work and cinematography are very competent, and the sets can be breathtaking at times. A few of the actors try their hardest to make the dialogue work… Most notably Diane Krueger and William Hurt… And I can tell that the people involved in making this movie really came to work with buckets full of love, devotion, and give-a-shit. Unfortunately, none of those buckets contained any talent. The Host is not only a complete train-wreck of a movie, it’s a glorious train-wreck of a movie. It’s one of those rare projects that fails on nearly every conceivable level, from the editing to the execution to the overall premise. And you know what? That may appeal to some people.
This movie would have been much more successful if they had changed the title to Plan 10 From Outer Space, because when you get right down to it, that’s exactly what it is. It is the modern day equivalent of Edward D. Wood jr’s notorious opus. While it may be slipping quickly into obscurity right now, I can see a cult following developing over time. I love this movie… I know that’s strange to say, after I tore a much more popular film to pieces last week, but I can’t help it… I love The host. It’s terrible in all the right ways, and it didn’t do it deliberately… Which is what “So-bad-it’s-good” is all about.
From a professional perspective, this movie is barely worth a 2/10. It is awful from start to finish, and at over two hours of run time, even alcohol can barely save it. But for those of us who enjoy train-wrecks, I give it an 8/10, with a strong recommendation to buy a copy. But for the love of God, don’t watch it sober, at least the first time around.