Monsters can be much more didactic than centuries of philosophy. That’s the feeling you get from watching some horror movies, especially if you’re Korean. It is nothing new that South Korea, little by little, in the eastern – and more appropriate – way of doing things, presents films produced with an unusual quality and which tackle the most diverse subjects, from family dramas to the attacks of zombies and other monsters that make human life hell on the big screen. And when it comes to South Korea, nothing is by chance. Behind each of these South Korean productions, there is always the purpose of alerting the public, not to the existence of teratological beings prowling around, ready to devour unsuspecting human beings, of course, but to make it, to say the least, wary and more sensitive to certain issues, those, yes, capable of razing entire cities, of spreading around the world like a great uncontrollable plague, and worst of all, without making a sound. There are relatively simple ways to combat them, and even many people are willing to do so; the problem is that these executioners of ours soon find a way to continue their dirty work, with the consent (and help) of double agents, men who should, of course, be fighting for the survival of their species , but moved by new interests, to play even more water in the mill of chaos.
“The Host” (2006) opens with a depiction of an American military base in Seoul in the year 2000. The scene takes place in a morgue, in which two men, a South Korean and an older American, converse while manipulating the instruments associated with this place. . This American, the affective participation of Scott Wilson, checks that the vials of formaldehyde, the formaldehyde we all know, are all covered with dust. Maybe the man has a disorder, maybe he’s one of the many cleaning maniacs that plague the world, but the most certain thing is that he really is a sadist. Without any drama of conscience, the veteran orders the other, who disputes, to throw everything down the sink, knowing that the endless toxic substances that make up formaldehyde will end up in the Han River, the main source of drinking water. of the Capital. The sequence, shocking in its simplicity and the primacy of Wilson’s character, becomes truly scandalous when it turns out to be based on a real event. In 2000, American Albert McFarland, a civilian undertaker who served at US military facilities in Yongsan, a northern Han district of Seoul, ordered his subordinates to pour 120 liters of formaldehyde into the morgue plumbing. Although the sewage was subjected to two treatment plants before reaching the course of the river, the episode generated a stir, with strong anti-American consequences.
Amidst the complex socio-environmental backdrop, there is the no less confused Park family. The patriarch, Park Hee-bong, has a kiosk at the edge of the Han. Byun Hee-bong’s character is the father of Park Nam-il, the responsible son played by Park Hae-il, and Park Gang-doo, the protagonist played by Song Kang-ho, who is unemployed and should help his father. with customers, but always sleeps on the goods on the counter. Gang-doo’s daughter, Kang-Du Hyun-Seo, is brought up with a little nonchalance, and her interpreter, Ko A-Sung, lets a thread of pain show through, just right. Everyone follows the success of Nam-Joo, the professional archer played by Bae Doo-na, from afar, on television, who takes part in yet another national championship. As each tries to make a living in their own way, a multicellular organism develops into the form of a genetically modified fish of gargantuan dimensions. Owner of a voracious appetite, this underwater terror rises to the surface, where it grows its legs, and begins to torment the people of Seoul, starting of course with the Parks. The authorities’ lukewarmness to the matter makes Gang-doo, once an outcast despised by his own family, the possible hero. Even in defense of your clan.
As unbelievable as it may sound, everything about “The Host” is pretty subtle. Despite the halving of the pace – the lengthening of certain subplots, such as the reaction of the international community to the threat from South Korea is undoubtedly the biggest flaw in the film by Bong Joon-ho, who leads a team of more than three screenwriters — the story, inventive, well conducted and technically refined, deserves attention. Like almost everything that is done in this country on the other side of the globe, even in “O Hospedeiro” we must redouble our attention to separate the chaff from the clichés of the jewel from its metaphors.
Film: the host
Direction: Bong Joon Ho
To note: 9/10