Heading in to this film having completely written it off after the author’s abysmal earlier film saga (“Twilight”), I found myself surprisingly involved in it somewhere along the way.
Instead of the sappy, tween romance dreck I had been expecting, “The Host” serves up a sci-fi tale of morality and ethics, and a decent one at that.
“The Host” begins with a young girl named Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) leaping from a three story window in order to evade capture and subsequent implantation of a parasitic organism known as a “Soul”. Earth has been taken over by these creatures, and very few humans remain uninfected. Melanie is aware that if she should have a Soul implanted in her, they would have access to her memories, which in turn would reveal the location of her brother, her boyfriend and the group of human refugees she was hiding with. So she jumps, instead.
Unfortunately for her, she survives the fall. The Souls’ superior medical technology is able to repair the damage from the fall, and she’s implanted with a creature after all. Melanie, however, fights back. The organism has control of her body, but Melanie’s personality and consciousness stay intact within her. She is literally of two minds as the Soul within her attempts to retrieve the location of the refugees and Melanie provides an internal, conflicting voice, chiding the invasive species over its murderous ways.
A host organism who stays conscious and fighting is a rarity for the Souls, and this particular soul (called The Wanderer) can’t fully cope. It finds itself being swayed by Melanie’s arguments. The security chief seeking out the human enclave, The Seeker (Diane Kruger), is suspicious and keeps a close eye on her… when The Wanderer succumbs to Melanie’s pleas and escapes, The Seeker is in close pursuit.
When Melanie and The Wanderer reach the human refuge, though, their problems are just beginning. Obviously, the humans there are mistrustful of an infected person. Can The Wanderer win them over and keep herself alive?
Unlike the Twilight Saga, “The Host” is not mainly a tween romance. Surprisingly, the romantic element here took a back seat to the science fiction. The primary focus of the film was actually the moral and ethical ramifications surrounding intelligent, alien, parasitic infestation. What if they didn’t mean to harm us? Supposedly here, all the prior species they had infested were willing participants. What if they legitimately improved the planet? Is it possible for a Host and a Soul to peacefully co-exist? The characters in this story wrestle with these questions as they decide whether or not to let the infected Melanie live. When the tween love triangle does eventually come, it winds up the beneficiary of a clever construct… Melanie wants to be with her boyfriend still (Max Irons), but the Soul who has inhabited her wants to be with someone else (Jake Abel).
“The Host” also benefits from something else “Twilight” didn’t, and that’s solid acting. Not from everyone, mind you, but William Hurt and Frances Fisher have prominent roles as the Patriarch of the human settlement and his wife. Their presence adds more than a touch of credibility amongst the otherwise predominantly teen cast.
It’s an interesting and surprisingly engrossing story. Certainly it could have been executed a little better, but I’ll say it straight out, I’m looking forward to “The Host 2”.