Open Road Films
125 Mins. Directed By Andrew Niccol
With Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and William HurtWhen it comes to the Twilight series, it is safe to say I am filled with little to no love for its existence. Though for as stubbornly critical as I am, everything gets its fair chance in the sun. I knew nothing about The Host before seeing it; for all I knew Stephenie Meyer’s first non-Twilight novel was a mature, brilliantly crafted masterpiece. That being said, if I had the chance to place a hefty bet beforehand that The Host is a flimsy attempt at a deep story, stolen from properly inventive sources, I would be a millionaire right now. Written for the screen and directed by Andrew Niccol, The Host is flaccid, offensive, faulty and lost. All in all, this film is worthless.The Earth of the future is in a state of complete peace. Unfortunately, the non-violent, copacetic world is not the result of a revolutionary treaty, but instead the circumstance of an alien invasion. A foreign race known as Souls (tennis ball sized creatures that look like glow in the dark house caterpillars), have inhabited the bodies of almost every citizen of Earth. The few humans left live in hiding, working toward taking back the planet. Melanie Stryder is doing her best to keep her brother and boyfriend alive and only has one way of making sure they are never found when she is surrounded by a group of Souls; she needs to kill herself. Jumping to her death, Melanie somehow still holds onto a string of life, allowing the Souls to take over her body.Now host (OHHHHHHH, I TOTALLY GET IT NOW!) to a Soul named Wanderer, Melanie’s mind and voice live on, sharing a single body with a filthy alien Soul. It is not long before Wanderer becomes affected by Melanie’s memories and the two body sharing entities head off “together” to find Melanie’s family, who are hidden deep in the desert. They are not alone though, as a Soul hell bent on crushing the final existence of humanity is hot on their trail, fueled by the thought that Melanie’s family is the heart of the Human resistance.The cornball nature of the story begins to seep out as soon as the lights go down and profusely oozes until the theater is drowned in a thick salve of sappy buffoonery. It took no longer than a single minute of William Hurt’s voice, mapping out the world of The Host before I began to sigh in frustrated disbelief. When I wasn’t wincing at the pain caused by the melodramatic love triangle plot point (Stephenie Meyer’s obviously has a three-way fetish), my brain was hemorrhaging from the comical fighting voice of Melanie as she berated her unwanted body-mate. Never before has a disembodied voice been so tragically pathetic and moronic as in The Host. The sarcastic quips transmitted by Melanie sound more like the sassy comebacks of Blaine and Antoine from In Living Color’s “Men on Films” skits, than an actual person who is angry and distraught over their tragic predicament. It came to the point where I wanted to stab myself in the ear to rid myself of the voices in someone else’s head.It is hard to pinpoint who is to blame for the story’s multitude of questionable plot holes. Obviously, it is easy to call out Meyer and rip into her because everything starts with her novel, but the more I think about it, I have to believe Andrew Niccol did not have the guts or foresight to correct major mistakes when adapting the piece That, or his ability to produce a sensible film no longer exists.In his last feature, In Time, Niccol created a futuristic world where cars had live T.V. pumped into their consoles and scientists could embed life clocks into people’s arms, keeping them eternally young, while living forever, as long they could acquire, “more time.” Yet, in this same world where Oedipal complexes must have run rampant, no one invented a fucking cell phone so Justin Timberlake’s mother could call him to say, “Shit, my time is running out, meet me here to give me some time so I don’t die.” The same lapse of common sense exists throughout The Host. The only differentiating physicality between Humans and Souls is that a body inhabited by a Soul has eyes that glow blueish-white. So to disguise themselves while going into public, humans wear sunglasses to hide their eyes, instead of, I don’t know, wearing the same fucking contact lenses that the actors do to make their eyes look that way! Just as well, if the Souls know humans wear sunglasses at all times of the day to hide their eyes, why not ban sunglasses. It sure would make their jobs a whole lot easier.Even though the film opens after the invasion of the glow-stick insects, the details of how the Souls exist, travel and inhabit our species renders the entire story implausible. It is stated that the Souls travel from planet to planet, taking over the bodies of the living until they need to move on to another planet and that these worldly travels take centuries, in our time. The Souls, who literally fit into a pair of cupped hands, surf the universe in little silver containers that land on a special grid made of some sort of tractor beam to guide them in. Once on Earth, they have to be inserted into a body, by having an already hosted human cut a hole in the back of a new host’s neck, so the Soul can climb in.So taking all of that into consideration, how in God’s name did they take over in the first place? Let’s assume that their special landing pad is only there to make the trip easier, that means one of their pods could have fallen to earth. Even that being the case, how did they get into a human body? Did someone randomly try to kill themselves by slitting open the back of their neck, only to trip onto the Soul that was luckily there to witness the occasion? Maybe they sent instructions to Earth, ala Contact, explaining how to build their landing site and how to communicate with them by inserting a Soul into a human body. Even then, after the first test, when high ranking officials understood the implications, they would have ended that experiment quickly and crushed the rest of the Souls under their feet.Taking advantage of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers lore to make a gushy love story between a girl and her invading parasite, while being sequestered by William Hurt and Frances Fisher in a cave full of Abecrombie and Fitch models, certainly explains the “depth” in this painful 125 minute film.The story attempts to explore the actual morals and spiritual aspects of human life, but fails to attach to anything purposeful and when it gets close, just drowns it all in kisses and face slaps. The Host is nothing more than a continuation of trash where no resolution solves any real problems, all of which is raised to prominence by lovesick tweens and disenfranchised wives.