Rating: R for creature violence and language
Length: 119 minutes
Language: Korean with English subtitles
As all PW professionals know, improper disposal of hazardous waste can have dire consequences. The discarded gunk deter good algae growth, render water undrinkable, spawn a giant sewer-dwelling beast that feasts on your constituents--you know, the usual.
Korea's "The Host" brings such important lessons home. The creature-feature begins, as many of these flicks do, with the U.S. military royally screwing things up. A sergeant at an Army base morgue orders an assistant to dump gallons of formaldehyde down the sink.
Despite his best instincts, the lackey complies and empties all the dusty bottles down the drain (and, ultimately, into the Han River). Uh-oh. You don't need super-ominous soundtrack music to guess that some serious stuff is going to happen, thanks to the Army dude's thoughtless dumping.
As all PW professionals know, improper disposal of hazardous waste can have dire consequences. The discarded gunk deter good algae growth, render water undrinkable, spawn a giant sewer-dwelling beast that feasts on your constituents-you know, the usual.
Years later, the bill comes due in the form of a carnivorous critter that haunts the sewers under Seoul's Wanho Bridge. In a snacking mood, the beast-resembling the lovechild of a catfish and the predator of "Predator"-exits the water and treats the river bank as its personal all-you-can-eat buffet.
An unlikely hero emerges in Gang Du, the narcoleptic operator of a food stand on the river spurred into action when his daughter is snatched by the monster. He and his rag-tag family (elderly father, alcoholic brother, and archery-champion sister) set out to find and rescue the hapless kid. Their heroic efforts are stymied by misguided military officials who claim the creature and all who've been within reach of its slimy mitts carry a dangerous virus and must be quarantined.
Beyond cautioning that non-American filmgoers don't put as much stock in happy endings as stateside cinephiles do, I won't reveal what happens to the creature or the people fighting their fishy foe. I will say, though, that "The Host" is the perfect popcorn flick-thrilling (I jumped a couple of times after being spooked by the onscreen action), well-acted, at times hilarious, and not too taxing on the brain. Plus, it's a prime opportunity to educate non-public-works friends along on the importance of proper waste disposal.