THE HOST. It’s not your type of science fiction movie

Stephenie Meyer made herself known to the world as the author of an incredibly popular vampire saga.

Jakub Piwoński

17 November 2023

THE HOST. It's not your type of science fiction movie

The predictability, exaggerations, or Mary Sue elements affecting the questionable artistic value of her works seemed to bother only literary critics. The adaptation of her books to the screen quickly turned out to be a commercial success. A new trend in fantasy with romantic elements, or, if you prefer, romance with fantasy elements, emerged. Hence The Hunger Games, hence Beautiful Creatures, hence City of Bones. Meanwhile, Meyer, clearly excited and delighted by the success of her vampire series Twilight, decided to capitalize on it and create another book series. This, of course, was quickly picked up by filmmakers. The Host is the beginning of a new romance, this time framed within the context of contact science fiction. One doesn’t need to be a marketing expert to notice the purely commercial dimension of the novel and its adaptation.

In The Host, the role of the new Bella is played by Melanie. Or rather, Melanie and Wanderer. This schizophrenic portrayal of the main character comes from the leading motif of the film. As befitting contact science fiction, we have a future where humanity establishes a relationship with an alien form of life. Aliens not only decided to appear on Earth but also to gradually “invade” the human species. So, it’s far from calling this a coexistence. The aliens appear as small creatures, resembling amoebas in shape, and treat the human body as a “host” where they decide to reside. This way, they aim to take control of Earth. However, the unyielding humanity doesn’t give in easily and forms a resistance movement. The main character becomes a member of this movement. Unfortunately, Melanie gets captured, and an alien entity, Wanderer, is installed in her body and mind. Of course, Melanie, as befitting a protagonist, turns out to have an incredibly strong self-awareness that is not easily expelled from her own mind. She persuades Wanderer, residing in her body, to seek out and join her friends from the resistance hiding somewhere in the desert caves. You might ask, “What about the love story?” Well, one of the resistance members is Melanie’s beloved, Jared. As if that weren’t enough, another member of the survivors, Ian, develops feelings for Wanderer, or rather, for Wanda, as they will shorten her name. Another love triangle (or square)? Why not!

The Host Saoirse Ronan

Before I begin the actual critique, I’ll say that The Host had some noteworthy aspects. Namely, the visual aspect, the music, Diane Kruger’s appearance, and William Hurt’s calm demeanor. And that’s it. Now, let’s move on to the actual critique. Andrew Niccol is responsible for the script and direction of this work. He was once an important name in the field of science fiction film, having brought us the outstanding Gattaca and the script for the equally outstanding Truman Show. However, he made the fairly mediocre In Time, which did not cast his next project in a favorable light. It should be noted, however, that he did not choose a good material for a return to form. Assessing the adaptation from a purely cinematic point of view, I will say it outright— The Host seems to be another overhyped creation based on sentimental messages, exaggerated characters, and a pretextive plot. This film may only captivate thirteen-year-old girls interested in romantic experiences. It’s a pity for the talent of such a valuable director to be wasted on participating in such an unsophisticated piece of art.

The Host Saoirse Ronan Max Irons Jake Abel

The main problem with The Host, affecting the viewing experience, is that the film is terribly dull, and the action flows without a clearly defined purpose. The most frightening moment during the screening for me was when I realized that I completely didn’t know what the characters were aiming for. I had the impression that the meticulously outlined plot in the film was of little significance because the most crucial moments were those in which the characters passionately kissed and said they loved each other. I understand that this is beautiful, but if I really wanted to be swept away by such emotions, I wouldn’t spend money on this SCIENCE FICTION BLOCKBUSTER and would instead watch the final sequence of Cinema Paradiso once again. That’s it!

The Host Saoirse Ronan Max Irons Jake Abel

In terms of acting, The Host also doesn’t have much to offer. Pretty faces parade on the screen to please the audience rather than necessarily convey something. The increasingly popular Saoirse Ronan doesn’t quite fit into this sugary world, mainly because of her somewhat specific appearance. Instead of a new Bella, I would probably prefer her in the role of a new Carrie. Almost every character is emotionless and empty inside. It’s not good when the fate of a group of surviving people means nothing to you, and even more so when the relationships between them—especially the romantic ones—are indifferent. Undoubtedly, another problem with the film is the lack of a villain, or rather, its absence. Looking at Diane Kruger, I couldn’t believe that this charming blonde would want to harm the main characters. So who were they really running from?

The Host Diane Kruger

I warn fans of all kinds of contact science fiction – The Host is not a film for you. To refresh the theme of aliens taking over control of human minds, I propose re-watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Puppet Masters. I’ll risk saying that Meyer’s novel adaptation will not even appeal to fans enamored with her work. It’s not so easy to convince viewers that they’re getting something new when it’s plainly visible that, in relation to the vampire saga, only the backdrop of the story has changed. The Host probably won’t be the beginning of another lucrative cycle. It will be an example of a derivative, pop-cultural product that, this time, no one fell for on the cover.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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