The Host (2013)

The Host — the latest overlong adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer novel — is terrible. There. I said it. Spoiler for the rest of the review: It will be one where almost nothing good is said about the movie. I had a dreadful time watching this movie. I hated almost every second that it played, and I felt sorry for everyone involved in its production, as well as anyone who is going to go see it. It has its target audience, I’m sure, but I could take nothing good away from this film.

Starting off with a similar idea to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Host eventually transitions into one of the worst romance stories you’ll be able to see captured on film. The world has been taken over by aliens who consume the minds of humans everywhere, and continue to do everything that we do, except better. A voice-over at the beginning informs us that the environment has been fixed, nobody starves anymore, and there’s no war. Everything is perfect, save for a few survivors of the takeover. These rebels fight for their freedom, even though the aliens are more sympathetic — a problem already, but not the biggest one.

Our hero is Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), who almost dies in her first scene. Almost captured by the “bad guys,” she decides to jump from a fifth story window instead of getting captured. A bold decision. Suicide is a better alternative to being taken over. She miraculously lives, is healed, and is then taken over like anyone else. The only difference is that her mind remains inside of her body, essentially sharing the space with the alien. She doesn’t have any motor control — save for specific cases when the script calls for it — but she does get to speak to the alien and attempt to sway its mind into doing something it wouldn’t initially want to do.

The leader of the aliens, in this area of the world, anyway, is Seeker (Diane Kruger), who is determined to wipe out all of the humans. She’s hoping that the alien infecting Melanie, who is called Wanderer/Wanda (also Saiorse Ronan), will lead her to the location of the rebellious group of survivors. Melanie eventually gets her body to these people, who are hiding out in the desert, and it’s in their base that most of the film takes place.

See, inside of the base is Melanie’s boyfriend (Max Irons). He now hates Melanie’s body, because it’s infected and he can’t know that Melanie’s soul (or whatever) is still inside. So, there’s tension here. Another man, Ian (Jake Abel), becomes attracted to Wanda, but never knew Melanie. You can see the love triangle coming, can’t you? Would it surprise you that this is what consumes the majority of the rest of the film?

It shouldn’t, assuming you’ve seen or read the other series Meyers created, Twilight. The romance rarely worked there, but here it’s even worse. The two males are supposed to be fighting over her, except they don’t. They basically just take turns. But there’s no drama, because they’re in love with different people, technically. The romance is uncomfortable and unintentionally hilarious.

The Host works best when it attempts to have some tension between the humans and this alien who has taken over the body of a girl. This doesn’t happen; the aliens never come in peace. But this one did. However, this never actually amounts to anything, and everything that does happen is quickly quelled by the supporting cast. It never appears as if things are going to boil over, Wanda never even comes across as a threat, and the whole production is so harmless and dull that there’s no possibility to take joy from it.

It’s also all supposed to be at least relatively tense because Seeker is supposedly hunting down Wanda. But apart from two flybys, she’s barely in the second act. We just spend all of our time watching this terrible romance play out between actors who have no chemistry — or are just terrible — and some conflict that never needs to get resolved because it doesn’t escalate to the point that it needs solving. And then the ending comes along just like that, finishing this agonizingly length film in what seems like the blink of an eye.

The only strong part of The Host comes from its female lead. Saoirse Ronan doesn’t get much to do in general, because she’s generally staring blank-eyed at people who are talking at her, but the voice-over narration that her Melanie provides is at least good for a laugh here and there. She’s kind of snarky, kind of sarcastic, and it’s fun to hear her react to some of the things that Wanda gets into. Like the villain, however, Melanie’s narration comes and goes — and at one point disappears, only for the characters to try to bring her back … for no reason. She’s brought back right before Wanda goes off on a “quest” that only she can do, and Melanie won’t help accomplish in the least.

The Host is abysmal and an absolute waste of talent, time and money. Maybe it will appeal to some people, but from where I’m sitting, there’s hardly a single good thing about it, save for a few laughs — both of the intentional and unintentional variety. It’s a dull, overlong, poorly scripted mess of a movie, and I can’t recommend it to anyone.

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