After two hours, and $15 later, the only good thing to come out of the Host was the stark reminder that I should never, ever go near a Stephenie Meyer anything again in my life and even a very good-looking boy can’t save some absolute shockers.
The Host, based on the sci-fi novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer, a.k.a. that book that wasn’t Twilight, is based in the future where Earth has been overtaken by a parasitic alien race, known as ‘Souls’. The aliens, which are inserted into the brains of humans, eventually overtaking the body from the previous owner, have embodied almost all humans, save for a remaining few.
Enter Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a teenage girl trying to survive from being captured alongside her younger brother, Jamie, and the conveniently attractive, Jared (Max Irons). Unfortunately for her, she’s captured and a Soul, Wanderer, is inserted into her. Which would be all well and good for Wanderer, except that Melanie is refusing to leave her body (go with it) and as a result a weird twosome is happening within.
Through Melanie’s coaxing, and to get away from the pain-in-the-arse Seeker (Diane Kruger), Wanderer tracks down a group of humans (real ones) that include Jared and Jamie, and the (far less attractive, but a lot nicer) Ian (Jared Abel). Cue weird love square between three bodies later, and you have 90% of the rest of the film.
So let’s start with the good, since, quite frankly, there wasn’t much of it. First things first, special mention to Diane Kruger’s g-string. Not entirely sure if that was on purpose, but it’s nice to see that her costume goes all the way up into her arse. Even though her acting was sub-par, I do give her points for withholding expressions of discomfort, which, as far as I could tell, she surely must have been feeling.
Secondly, the main love interest, Jared, played by Max Irons, was super attractive. Of course he couldn’t act in the slightest, and the entire extent of what my knowledge of him is that he’s the son of Jeremy Irons, but at least he was something nice to look at. Which, it turns out, was almost a necessity to sit through this film.
Thirdly, at times Saoirse Ronan convincingly played Melanie/Wanderer. I say at times, because there were particular moments where she looked downright ridiculous, such as when she was talking to herself while sitting on a cliff edge (sadly these moments were not singular). However, she did do a fantastic portrayal of someone who wasn’t always in control, both mentally and physically, and in that regard I think she did a far better job than many actresses would have in the role.
Now onto the bad. Where shall I start?
The very, very worst aspect of this film was the atrocious and downright shocking writing (courtesy of the director of this film, Andrew Niccol). While in theory the concept had the potential to be really awesome, because it brings into play sci-fi, free will, love, lack of control, and the steps we’ll take to retain our identity, in practice it was awful.
Firstly, the whole ‘star-crossed lovers’ aspect of it. I’m not going to dive too deeply into the way that the two main characters were cool with hooking up with the same girl at the same time, particularly since she’s going through a fair bit (body invasion, mind control and so forth). I’m also not going to draw attention to the fact that Melanie and Jared apparently had sex pretty much straight away (which wouldn’t usually be an issue, but it is a film targeted for young teenage girls). Or that the other love interest is literally trying to kill her one minute, and then attempts get into her pants the next. Instead I’m going to draw attention to some of the worst lines I’ve ever had the horror to listen to. Remember, this is a ‘serious film’.
The universe is going to be a much darker place without you in it, Wanda
I love you with everything that I am capable of
I’m in two minds
To emphasis, this last line was repeated twice, just in case you missed the excellent wit of Niccol’s writing the first time around.
Put simply, the writing of this film was terrible because it stopped being a sci-fi and tried very hard to be a soppy romance to cater to the ready-made audience from the Twilight Saga. Only thing is, that’s not what the book was. And trying to downplay the sci-fi and amp up the sexy times, in what is very much a sci-fi book (it’s about MIND INVASION for crying out loud), results in a film that just comes across as contrite, silly and very jumbled. Doesn’t matter how good looking the love interest is.
Secondly, the direction. Everything from the ridiculous over-simplification of props (the mega-supermarket is simply titled STORE), the cliche futuristic costumes (picture lots of white and shiny, shiny silver) and the endless imagery of the desert. Now don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate great scenery, but can I appreciate the same mountain scape on an endless loop? No. And the cherry on top of the awful, awful cake that was The Host, was the over-use of cross-fades.
From what I’ve gathered from every other film that has ever used this tactic, the cross-fade is used as a subtle and subliminal cinematic technique to link two seemingly unconnected images in the audiences’ mind, perhaps to suggest a distinctive or important part of the plot, or to create a smooth transition between scenes. In the Host? Well, let me try and use an example. Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons, when Homer tries to make a movie about Flanders to bring in the ladies, and every five seconds there is a ‘star transition’? Let’s just say, Niccol’s techniques about as subtle as that.
Thirdly, the ending. For anyone who is still reading and actually still wants to see the film (in which case, I am also going to assume you’re one of those people who search basements in the dark when they hear a weird noise…stupid and set out to create the worst possible outcome), I won’t give away the ending. I’ll just say that it’s cliche, everyone gets their way (which is ridiculous because, as previously mentioned, it is a film about MIND INVASION) and includes an actress that looks scarily like a younger version of Stephenie Meyer.
In short, this film was terrible. Easily the worst film I’ve seen of 2013. It brings absolutely nothing to the table, except for being so bad it was literally laughable. If you’re a 16 year old girl, sure you’ll probably enjoy it. If you are the other 99% of the population, I would suggest staying as far away as is humanly possible from this film, and if you do by chance stumble across it, return home immediately to a hearty dose of Kubrick, which is not only cinematic gold, but also, if chosen with care, will help you relieve your anger over having wasted two hours of your life watching this film.
Have you seen The Host? Am I perhaps being unnecessary harsh or are you as traumatised by the experience? Let me know!