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Review: The Host

Ok... So I was bored...

It was an okay movie as long as you give up on character development, solid plot, or a connection with any of the characters beyond the length of time it takes to watch the movie.

The plot is fairly well tread ground.

Alien parasites invade the Earth by taking over human hosts. Eventually most people are taken over leaving a few isolated pockets of resistance who eventually focus more on hiding and surviving than any true resistance. The parasites see themselves as superior, obviously justified by the fact that they've taken over world after world. Then you have a protagonist narrowly trying to keep the last bastions of humanity safe.

The Host takes this formula and adds the minor twist that one of the parasites switches sides during the process of merging with its host.

There's little no back-story for the invaders. There rarely is in such movies (i.e. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Puppeteers, The Faculty, etc.,.) I hear that the books have some back story, but none of that comes through in the movie aside from a side mention of a previous water filled planet. It seemed like an after thought, like "oh we need to talk about where they came from..." CHECK!

Similarly, what should be the main conflict, between the main parasite and human host, has very little conflict except some internal dialog that rarely rises above a loud argument and some whining. I expected rage from the supposedly "strong, determined, fierce" woman that everyone kept saying she was. Likewise I expected more arrogance and aloofness from the invader parasite. Some semblance of a real fight.

There's little example of what the parasite culture is and only a minor inference that there may be some sort of caste or class system. The parasites simply come in, take over a society and then go about living those people's lives as is, while somehow also perfecting things by giving the "seekers" chromed out sports cars and shiny helicopters.

There's a ton of stuff here that I could complain about, but plenty of other reviews out there have talked about those; the love triangle, bringing an infected person into the safe-house, whiny shallow characters, formulaic writing, etc.,.

So here's a couple of things I haven't seen mentioned yet.

1. The parasites land in little pods in a special landing area. Who built the landing pad?
2. The parasites are implanted by first knocking out the host then cutting an incision in the neck of the host, and then slowly coaxing the parasite from their pod and into the incision. The whole process is overseen by a "healer". How could the parasites have overrun if they required such a complex process to take a host? How did the first healers and seekers take over without first having healers in place?

I know it seems silly to say "realistically" about a sci-fi/fantasy story... but there's only so much suspension of disbelief you can muster. In story telling you have to either think through those mechanics or avoid exposing even a part of them for analysis. Had the landing and implantation occurred off screen, these questions could have been left to speculation. However, their inclusion opens the door to deeper questions.

Think about how parasites work in the real world. Most parasites evolve very closely with their host organism. Invasion by the parasite happens through ingestion, via open wounds, by burrowing into the skin, inserted via parent, force, or some sort of trickery. We see none of that from this glowing slow moving caterpillar "soul". We see no evidence that these organisms have any mechanism that makes them suitable invaders. Unlike the many other parasitic invasion stories these parasites change the host in easily discernible ways, both mannerism and glowing eyes.

The military and police forces would be picking these people up quickly and gathering up any landing pods and fumigating the contents.

There are only two real options for parasites to survive. They have to either be fast or be subtle in the way they invade the host. And they have to remain undetected so that the host isn't shunned or killed.

It's a pretty simple thought process that seems to have been ignored for no real benefit.

The other thing not touched on is how does the parasite feed, how long can it remain outside of a host, does is shorten the lifespan of a host... etc.,.

These are the kind of internal monologue kind of things an infected person might want to ask something crawling around in their brain "hey, are you eating my brain or drinking my blood?"

But instead there's all this whining about boys. BLEH! I can certainly see that a real person might have these internal struggles... but I would assume that they'd also be balanced out with other every day and survival related instincts. Thoughts about shared senses, fighting for control, or how to shut the invader out.

Likewise you'd assume there would be some shared internal dialog, why does the parasite have to physically verbalize for the host to hear her/them. Does the host have access to the memory of the parasite through the same neural connection. Why doesn't the parasite discuss the differences between human minds and the minds it previously invaded?

The problem is that the author's internal dialog is as weak as the external dialog. It's too shallow and lacks any of the real complexity of real people with real motivations. Real people keep secrets, real people only show a portion of themselves and their real motivations, real people manipulate, make assumptions, and are inquisitive, DEEPLY inquisitive. All of Stephanie Meyers characters as far as I can tell just kind of go with the flow without any thought for what comes next beyond some shallow low set goal.

No one in the movie talked about organized rebellion. No one even mentioned what the invasion even looked like. There's no history and without that history there's no reality to this schlock. For instance how many countries facing invasion would have committed wholesale genocide. We have current examples of that directly with the human species. Why wouldn't that occur as this very other invader started to take hold. The death toll would be huge. Bombing, nukes, sabotage, chemical weapons, massive destruction at all levels. But none of that is discussed. Even the main seeker who is convinced of human destructiveness, she doesn't use anything from her history or our history as an example. No suicide bombings during the invasion, no mass killings or mass suicides, no cult activity or governmental attacks... nothing. Crickets...

Those are really the two biggest plot holes that needed to be answered for this movie to even have a chance. But you know, what do you expect from the person who wrote that Twilight drivel.