Although written by awful novelist Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame, I had a small glimpse of hope for The Host. There were two things going for it: first, it stars Saoirse Ronan, the fantastic female lead in Hanna; second, it was written and directed by Truman Show writer and Gattaca director Andrew Niccol. Sadly, nothing can save The Host from being another pathetically poor waste of time.
If you’re walking into The Host with the expectation of seeing science fiction, think again. In the future, a race of non-violent aliens has taken over mankind. They did so in order to stop humans from destroying themselves and the planet. The movie immediately opens with Ronan’s character, Melanie, getting caught by the body-snatching aliens. After being drugged, they insert a CG glowing tentacled alien life form into a slit on the back of her neck. From this point on, she no longer controls her own body. She has been taken over by an alien who calls herself “Wanderer.”
Normally, the host is locked inside the body, unable to control it at all while the alien accesses memories that reveal information about other human rebel hideouts – but Melanie is different. She is able to provide inner monologue to Wanderer. Via a cheesy voice-over, in no time, Melanie convinces thousand-year-old Wanderer to keep her secrets and sneak away to her rebel family and boyfriend. 30 minutes later, Melanie leads Wanderer to her family. At this point, you might be ready for something cool to happen. Maybe the rebels will fight back against the aliens, or invade some compounds, or learn about alien technology, or … something – but, no, that doesn’t happen. Truthfully, nothing happens. The remaining 95 minutes (yes, the movie is 125 minutes long) are spent finding ways to create love triangles between the teenage characters. It’s Twilight all over again. Absolutely nothing happens, making this long slow movie feel exceptionally long.
Science fiction is all about teaching symbolic messages. The Host isn’t even close to containing one. There’s nothing smart about it at all. Instead, it’s about teenage love and obsession. Meyer only has the ability to write like an overly emotional love-obsessed 13-year-old girl – and that’s not a compliment. No time whatsoever is spent explaining how this story came to be – for example – how 99 percent of humankind was overtaken by non-violent aliens. The back story is contradictory to what we’re led to believe. If these aliens took over Earth in order to save it from violence, yet they refuse to act in violent manners, then how did they take over the human race in the first place?
The Host isn’t science fiction. It’s piss poor writing from an author who deserves nothing more than to have her books placed on the grocery store racks alongside trash novels. And as much as I want to love Niccol’s work, while The Host is a beautiful-looking movie, it is a hollow shell of a film. Had it not been based on a book “from the author of The Twilight Saga” (as every poster, trailer and television spot reminds us), The Host would be a direct-to-home video movie that’s always in stock at the Redbox because nobody wants to see it.
Photo credit: Open Road