Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some Sensuality and Violence
Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Written by: Andrew Niccol
(based on the novel THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, William Hurt & Emily Browning
In the vast recesses of young adult adaptations, I doubt I’ve run across one that is crammed full of mind-boggling stupidity as THE HOST. Based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer (author of the TWILIGHT saga), the premise is basically INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS with romance thrown in. We all know that the one thing that terrifying science-fiction/horror movie needed was more sweeping shots of people kissing. That’s exactly what THE HOST delivers in a film that misses every opportunity of creativity thrown at it. This is all coupled along with one-dimensional characters and convoluted plot twists that come right the hell out of nowhere. This is a really dumb movie and there’s no way of avoiding that.
In the not too distant future, the human race is nearly extinct. A parasitic race of aliens, Souls, have invaded human bodies and are using them as their own. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is a young girl who has become the latest host of one of these Souls. The particular alien inhabiting her is called Wanderer. Much to Wanderer’s dismay, Melanie is not completely absent from her now taken-over body. Her consciousness is trapped inside her controlled form and unable to communicate to anybody except for Wanderer. A Seeker (form of authority in this newfound society) has become suspicious of Wanderer’s behavior and is planning on exterminating Melanie’s body, but the alien parasite and Melanie’s consciousness work together in order to find the remaining family that she comes from. Some romance ensues between Wanderer/Melanie and two different boys (Jared and Ian), all while the threat of the Seeker finding her increases and the paranoia of the survivors in the colony grows. That’s about the best I can sum up this premise.
One might not be expecting too much from THE HOST and rightly so. Stephenie Meyer is a piss-poor writer (having read about a third of the novel this film is based on and giving up on it). The book took far too long to get going, but a two-hour movie would most likely have a better pace. It does, but the problem lies within the convoluted plot and wooden acting. To be perfectly honest, things don’t make a whole lot of sense. The viewer isn’t given a whole lot of character development. With Andrew Niccol penning the script and sitting in the director’s chair, some significant deviations were made from the source material. Even with these changes, Niccol didn’t see fit to flesh out these characters further. They come off as one-dimensionally as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Therefore the motivations behind these people/aliens seem specifically driven, but a few turns come later on in the plot that get completely far-fetched and downright confusing. Coincidences and delayed decisions induce a lot of eye-rolling. It’s a poorly constructed plot to say the least.
As far as the acting goes, nobody gives anything close to resembling a halfway decent performance. Saoirse Ronan is hollow as both Wanderer and the mostly disembodied voice of Melanie. The love interests are nothing more than pretty boys cast for their looks. The most capable actor here is William Hurt as Melanie’s uncle Jeb and he’s the most likable character, which isn’t saying much as Jeb is pretty much a redneck stereotype. The trailer also showcases some action scenes, of which there’s only one real one in the entire film (about halfway through). In fact, the conflict between Wanderer/Melanie and the Seeker is so half-assed in its conclusion that it makes every scene featuring the two feel entirely pointless. The visual scheme is ugly to begin with and the dull settings don’t necessarily make things any better. The effects are also worthy of a Syfy Channel film.
The biggest compliment I can give THE HOST comes in it being far more fast paced than the novel it’s based on. That one attribute doesn’t make it a good, decent or even tolerable film though. It’s a stupid story with bad characters and an infuriating conclusion. THE HOST is somehow even worse than the TWILIGHT SAGA. At least those films had some sort of continuity and made more sense within their universe, despite how silly things got. THE HOST is terrible all around!