Monster mash

Rated 5.0

Remember a time when the monster movie reigned supreme as the go-to form of scary entertainment? Back when sharks and aliens and all sorts of nasty critters were responsible for laying down mayhem on hubristic humans who didn’t know enough to not go where they weren’t supposed to go?

Sigh … yeah, I’m getting old. But then, sometimes a monster movie comes around that makes me feel like that nearly forgotten 10-year-old boy hopping around in the back seat of a ‘64 Mercury Comet at the drive-in, watching through a rain-spattered windshield as a handful of Japanese dudes in rubber suits slugged it out amidst the rubble of a scale-sized Tokyo.

Well, sometimes is now and right now that monster movie is called The Host. In this case, the crowds of people running away from the rampaging beastie shrieking “Aieeeeee!” are Korean, and the writers, Chul-hyun Baek and Joon-ho Bong (who also directed), have eschewed the rubber suit for the potential of CGI.

And although you really don’t need a story for this kind of thing, there is one thrown in just for the sake of continuity: After an American multinational corporation flushes buckets of a nasty chemical down the drains, a mutant tadpole rises from the nearby Han River to stalk the streets of the city looking for Seoul food. Seriously, what more do you need? Fortunately, the filmmakers serve up a very nice blend of drama, satire and pathos chased by a monster design that looks pretty damned cool. For a giant tadpole.

Trust me … this one is a hell of a lot more fun than you’d expect for some silly monster movie.