The Host (괴물, Gwoemul – “Monster”) is a 2006 South Korean monster film, which also contains elements of comedy and drama films. The film was directed by Bong Joon-ho, who co-wrote the screenplay, along with Baek Chul-hyun.
Starring in the film as members of an unremarkable family thrust into the middle of extraordinary events were Song Kang-ho, Byeon Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona and Ko Ah-seong. A combination of blockbuster plot and political commentary, the film also deals with the implications of America’s military presence in Korea.
Following the success of the director’s work, Memories of Murder, The Host was heavily anticipated. It was released on a record number of screens in its home country on July 27, 2006. By the end of its run on November 8, the film was seen 13 million times, making it the highest grossing South Korean film of all time. The film was released on a limited basis in the United States on March 9, 2007, and on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD formats on July 24, 2007. It won several awards including Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and at the Blue Dragon Film Awards.
The French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma ranked the film as 3rd place in its list of best films of the year 2006. The Japanese film magazine Kinema Junpo selected it as one of the top 10 best foreign films of the year 2006. (Flags of Our Fathers won the best foreign film of the year 2006.)
With a limited American release starting March 11, 2007, The Host garnered very positive reviews, with a 92% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition, it was ranked one of the top films of 2007 on Metacritic with a score of 85. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote “The Host is a loopy, feverishly imaginative genre hybrid about the demons that haunt us from without and within.” The filmmaker Quentin Tarantino included it in his list of top 20 films released since 1992 (the year he became a director).