Movie Reviews: “The Host”
Our story begins in the assumed distant future. Earth has now become a perfect, harmonious utopia where everyone is cooperative, trusting, and respectful of the planet. Conflict and distrust among people have all but been extinguished. Sounds great right? The catch is that this new perfection has come at the expense of losing ourselves to a parasitic alien race that occupies human bodies and minds. The only survivors of this invasion are struggling to remain human in this world. This story is “The Host,” a film based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series.
I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not particularly a fan of either the Twilight books or the films, but I have to say that I was intrigued to see what type of story Stephanie Meyer came up with outside of sparkly vampires and werewolves. Would this have redeeming qualities? Or would it be just as terrible as Twilight? I dragged my best friend out for a matinee showing to find out.
From a completely objective standpoint, I have to say that the story sounds promising. A parasitic alien race. A utopia. The resistance of the remaining humans. Our protagonist, Melanie, is one such survivor, until she is captured and infected with the parasite. The wrinkle is that she retains her human consciousness, and we hear her speaking inside the alien’s (her name is “Wanderer”) head. On the surface, it sounds like this could make for a good story.
Except that it doesn’t. Or at least, the execution of what otherwise would have been a good story did not work.
For starters, the whole inner dialogue thing was incredibly awkward. Melanie’s voice screaming in Wanderer’s mind wasn’t chilling, haunting, or intriguing. It was entirely annoying, and her sarcastic quips weren’t funny in the slightest. In fact, I was thankful when Melanie’s voice disappeared in the plot for a little bit. Her dialogue always felt like it was trying to explain something to the audience, to assure us of something. The audience doesn’t feel any agency as a viewer to piece things together for themselves.
And it wouldn’t be a Stephanie Meyer piece if there wasn’t some sort of awkward love triangle, square, pentagon, star. The whole thing is one big mess of: this mind loves this guy but not this guy, the other mind likes this guy, this body loves both guys, but we both share this body. It was all a little too “Cartesian,” and I don’t know, maybe it could have been intriguing if it wasn’t just a bunch of teenagers looking for excuses to make out with each other and calling it love.
The biggest problem with the film aside from the lackluster script, awkward pacing, and flat acting was this: We are much too invested in Melanie’s story; there’s no chance to fully grasp anything about this society. If there had been a better description of the way the aliens decided to restructure human life, I probably would have been a little more intrigued. You can’t tell us that an alien race has invaded Earth and show us nothing about how that society works. If the director had built the environment more thoroughly, then maybe we could have understood our protagonist’s place in all of this. Otherwise, we are uninterested observers on the verge of sleep. And yes, I was about to fall asleep.
Don’t get me wrong, the film was slightly more interesting than Twilight. But only slightly. Considering that this story is about aliens, I’m not sure what that says, if it is only a tad more interesting than a story about an awkward teenager who falls in love with a vampire.
So no, I don’t recommend this movie, but if you want to see Stephanie Meyer in action outside of her main baby, draw strange parallels and snicker at awkward lines, feel free to go see it.