Film: The Host

This page is for the 2006 movie. Tropes about the 2013 movie adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer book of the same name should be placed on the book's trope page.

The Host (or Gwoemul, as it's known in its home country) is a critically-acclaimed 2006 film by Bong Joon-ho, combining aspects of the kaiju movie, the political satire, and the family dramedy. It absolutely swept the Blue Dragon Awards and the 1st Asian Film Awards, and is also the third highest-grossing South Korean film of all time, selling around 13 million tickets. It's also one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite movies of recent times.

After an American military pathologist stationed in Korea dumps over 100 bottles of formaldehyde down the drain (this part really happened and was a big scandal in the newspapers, although a company dumping MILLIONS of liters into the same river went largely unnoticed as it was done by a local company and not the Americans), a mutated, twenty-foot tadpole creature shows up on a beach and eats a bunch of people before disappearing (this part didn't really happen).

The film is based around protagonist Park Gang-du trying to rescue his daughter Hyun-seo after she gets kidnapped by the monster.


Contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Nam-joo
  • The Alcoholic: Nam-il, and to an even greater extent, the hobo whom he befriends.
  • Animal Nemesis: Averted, due to Korean Values Dissonance. "If a beast kills a man, then that beast should be torn limb from limb."
  • Artistic License Physics: If we forget about the problems a creature like that would have to even move outside of water in reality (that's the case of every monster movie, really), much less swinging around using its tail, still, how does a guy with a pole stop a massive, sprinting monster dead in its tracks? Alright, maybe it would have died anyways, but they should logically have both plunged into the water from the monster's momentum, or at least Gang-Du would have been sent flying from the shock.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: At least, we think it's a tadpole. It could be a lungfish or something.
  • Anticlimax: Just when Nam-il is dramatically winding up to throw his last Molotov at the monster, it ends up from slipping from his hand and breaking on the ground right before he can throw it. Pleasantly averted a few seconds later when Nam-joo shows up, though.
  • Badass Bystander: The American soldier who emerges from the crowd and tries to fight off the monster during its first rampage. A later new story reveals that he eventually dies of his wounds in hospital. This, however, means he initially survived, despite the last we saw of him being the monster pinning him by the arm, with him stabbing it.
  • Badass Family: The entire Park family. Nam-il gets special mention for dual wielding Molotov cocktails, though.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The creature is killed, but at the cost of Hyun-seo's life. Her father Gang-du ends up taking in the orphan boy Se-joo as his son, and has finally matured.
  • Cassandra Truth: Hyun-seo is alive, damn it.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Hyun-seo's cellphone battery is dying, and, being in the sewer, she has no way to recharge it.
  • Chekhov's Gag: When first encountering the creature, Gang-du throws a soda can at it to lure it out. It eats it and the whole crowd joins in and starts throwing food. A little later, the creature is regurgitating dozens of human bodies and skeletons it's been eating. The last item to fall out is Gang-du's soda can.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nam-joo's archery
  • Daylight Horror: Purposefully invoked in the initial attack scene.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The film deliberately evokes the SARS crisis, bird flu, and the Agent Orange bioweapon.
  • Driven to Suicide: Around the beginning, a businessman is jumping off a bridge, and catches a glimpse of the creature just before he jumps.
  • Eagleland: The film's portrayal of America is ultimately ambivalent: while the government is satirized rather viciously and there are one or two evil ones, an American soldier bravely gives his life trying to save a few people from the monster. Word Of God says: "It's a stretch to simplify The Host as an anti-American film, but there is certainly a metaphor and political commentary about the U.S." This is probably why North Korea permitted the release of the movie and had good press about it. The sequel is apparently going to target the People's Republic of China, who deny the creature's existence.
  • Eye Scream: The creature's death, which involves being shot directly in the eye with a flaming arrow. Nam-Joo also pulls off an Unflinching Walk in this scene.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Nam-il gets a bottle broken on his head by a hobo.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When the monster goes to eat Hyun-seo and Se-joo, it cuts to black while Hyun-seo's scream echoes.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: When the monster first attacks, we see a girl playing with a bobby pin listening to orchestral music with headphones completely oblivious to the mayhem around her. When someone runs by her, she turns around and gets taken away by the monster.
  • Hobo: One of whom is a Deliberately Cute Child. Seriously, there's a montage of him discussing what kind of food he'd like to eat while generally being adorable.
  • Homage: The idea of a giant monster carrying an even-more-dangerous disease was originally used in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
    • The movie generally plays on ALL the good and bad kaiju movies Godzilla spawned.
  • Idiot Hero
  • Improbable Weapon User: Gang-du gets increasingly skilled with a stop sign.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. But also followed through on during said aversion.
  • Mighty Whitey: An American soldier bravely steps up to help people escape the monster and tries to fight it off, getting mauled in the process. This was probably included to soften the anti-American message.
  • One Bullet Left: Brutally subverted; Gang-du gives a gun to Hee-bong thinking that it has one bullet left. When Hee-bong goes to fire at the monster, all he hears is an empty click. It then cuts to Gang-du counting on his fingers and realizing the mistake he's made as Hee-bong gets killed.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Gang-du's family mourns the loss of Hyun-seo, and won't stop crying!!
    • Also when the creature starts regurgitating all the bodies it's been eating. You wonder how it could hold all that in there.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hyun-seo's mother left after she was born, and she spends most of the movie trying to reunite with her father. Gang-du himself is a victim of this: his mother also left, and his father (though now very sorry) didn't take very good care of him.
  • Please Wake Up: Gang-du to Hee-bong after he gets killed by the monster.
  • Promotion to Parent: The unbearably cute hobo child is raised by his older brother.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Nam-il keeps pointing the barrel of his shotgun at objects (and people). In one scene, he pointed and thrust the shotgun at Gang-du's head while the latter was asleep.
  • Say My Name: A small portion of Gang-du's lines are just "HYUN-SEO!"
  • Silence Is Golden: Some of the scenes in the movie are completely silent.
    • The scene where the monster first takes Hyun-seo and dives back into the river is completely silent.
    • The scene when Hyun-seo and Se-joo hide from the monster in the sewers, at which point it starts throwing up a huge load of bones.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A lot of scenes that should be dramatic are completely ruined by unfitting orchestral music.
    • The chase scene, for example.
    • The scene where the monster is on fire screeching and trying to run towards water.
  • The Virus: It turns out that there is no virus and the whole thing was mass hysteria. Unlike in Monster A-Go Go, however, there undeniably was a monster.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In fact, there's a particularly glorifying scene of the monster vomiting a shower of bones.
  • Writer on Board: Although it manages not to derail the plot.
  • You Can Panic Now: The movie is a satirical deconstruction of this. Giant tadpole running around Seoul, eating people? It must be carrying A HIDEOUS NEW DISEASE! Let us completely focus on this possibility, and ignore the fact that it's eating people!