"The Host" Review: A Blunt Force Shart In the Eye of Sci Fi
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

The Host Review: A Blunt Force Shart In the Eye of Sci-Fi

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | March 29, 2013 | Comments ()


There's something intensely wrong with Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series and now The Host, upon which Andrew Niccol's new film is based. I can't tell you if it's a marketing hook, or if there is actually something profoundly dysfunctional about the woman's sexual proclivities. She spent years writing child-puke piddle about the obsession of two men -- a vampire with the grimaced look of a man trying to pass a two-by-four through his bowels and a wolf with a two-by-four in place of his brains -- with a character with all the personality of a cardboard stain. Now in The Host, Meyer finds a way to pull off a similar, more obscene feat: Writing about two vacuous men who are obsessed with the same body, which is inhabited by the minds of two women.

There's some seriously porn-y sh*t going on in the repressed mind of this lady, but it's that repression that separates her bad writing from the bad writing of E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey). At least James allows her lewd kinkiness to pop off the page. Meyer, on the other hand, seems determined to drape a hair shirt over her libido, rub herself up against her zipper until it chafes. There's amazing potential for a three-way between four souls in The Host, but Meyer puts it on a low simmer, featuring only a few frustrating stolen kisses and park-bench conversation. She has to save the double penetration for the sequel, I guess.

The Host is set in a future where the souls of a kind and civil alien race have inhabited the bodies of Earthlings, not to destroy but to assimilate and protect what we have taken for granted. The aliens, which look like puddles of glowing, tentacled vomit, are inserted into a slit in a human's neck. They download the person's memories and return to civilization as happy, courteous people who follow the speed limit, tip the wait staff well, and otherwise mind their Ps and Qs. One of the few remaining humans who have not had their bodies inhabited by aliens is Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), who leaps through a window in a four-story building to avoid alien occupancy. She miraculously survives, however, and an alien, Wanda, is inserted into her.

But Melanie is a fighter, which we know because the characters remind us of that fact on 47 different occasions. She doesn't allow Wanda complete control of her mind; she insists upon occupying the same mental space, and in doing so, directing Wanda to the other survivors, a hidden enclave built into a mountain in the desert where Melanie's brother and boyfriend also reside.

In case you're wondering how we know that Melanie is sharing brainspace with Wanda, it's because they carry on conversations throughout the entire film: Wanda speaks out loud via a voiceover. For two fucking hours. For one hundred and twenty agonizing minutes we listen to a woman have conversations, arguments, and discussions WITH HERSELF.

The survivors, of course, are fearful of Wanda, who they are concerned will lead other aliens into their community and occupy them, but eventually Wanda convinces them that Melanie is still kicking around in her mind. She even relays some of Melanie's insipit thoughts to her loved ones. In the meantime, Wanda develops a crush on another survivor, Ian, which is problematic because Melanie is still in love with Jared, and Melanie is not happy about renting our her body to Wanda's sexual needs. It's another way for Meyer to work in a abstinence theme: Wanda cannot act upon her urges because Melanie's body would be cheating on Jared, while Jared can't murder Melanie's vagina because it would be a betrayal to the mind of Wanda.

Wanda and Melanie become very close friends over the course of the film, sisters even, bonding over their shared dislike of a rogue seeker alien who is not as nice and courteous as the other aliens, and who wants very badly to complete the alien invasion.Their bond is so close that, at one point when Melanie's soul goes quiet for a few days, Wanda makes out with Melanie's boyfriend to provoke her into returning, which is pretty warped if you think about it.

If the premise of The Host sounds ripe for unintentional comedy, you would be right, except for the fact that it's all so very plodding, glacially placed, and tedious. It's difficult to laugh at the absurdity of The Host when you're fighting to stay awake. Niccol's sterile approach -- the same one he brought to the brilliant Gattaca -- doesn't help matters, either: He refuses to treat the daft source material with anything other than deadly seriousness, which is like dressing a wet fart in a suit and taking it to church, only much less interesting. Meanwhile, the otherwise talented Ronan is reduced to carrying on listless conversations with the ineffectually sarcastic voice in her head. It's a lumbering, slumbering slog.

It's also terrible sci-fi that presents a handful of lousy half-formed ideas and then miserably executes them without any real regard for the rules of the genre. But what I'm most incensed by is that Meyer -- and the people behind The Host -- are cruel enough to inflict such far-reaching stupidity into multiplexes, where the toxic asininity of it could leach into the masses. The Host doesn't so much reduce our collective IQ as it boot stomps it into a mushy paste of brain pasta. The Host is more than a dreary, incoherent mess; it sticks a finger up the butt of competence, wiggles it around, and holds it under our noses for nearly two hours until the pungency ripens and flowers into a bouquet of failure. It is a wretched film, ill-suited even to Twilight-softened brains of Meyer's target audience.

You Better Click On Today's Pajiba Love Unless You Want End Up In The... DANGER ZONE | Six Predictions For "Game of Thrones" Season 3 By A Non-Book Reading Fan

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Kim_Stabner

    Some people still believe that true love conquers all. Why do you feel that you have to ruin it for everyone else? Didn't your parents ever tell you that if you didn't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all? Your comments are what is insipid, not this movie.

  • goldushapple

    I agree.

    I thought this movie wasn't as nearly as bad, in face it was rather decent, than what critics make it out to be.

  • melly crest

    what is your problem?? you don't like the movie well then don't watch it, don't write about and don't criticize it. other people like this movie because it teaches a life lesson. to fight for what you stand for and care for. so please calm down and go review another movie. thank you.

  • Jody

    Stephenie Meyer is just sub par period, she even shows up to her movie premieres looking like a bag lady (talk about disrespectful) it is a paycheck to her and to her church, nothing more. She could care less what anyone thinks, and is probably laughing all the way to the bank as we let our kids read her crap lol

  • samlang8

    So did you like it?

  • Musashden

    So Stephanie Meyer's new 'heroine' is basically a boring, white, female version of BLUE BEETLE!! She's inhabited by an alien tech (the scarab) that develops it's own consciousness and name (Khaja Da/Wanda) and helps it's 'Host' (Jaime/Melanie) fight the evil aliens trying to control them (The Reach/whatever the hell Stephanie named her ripoff). Honestly woman first you ruined Vampires, now you're shitting on Aliens? Where does your mediocrity end?

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I can't hear anything about this movie without going "Isn't this a lot like the Animorphs with the brain aliens? Except worse than the Animorphs."

    We're talking about a trash teen series written in an English major sweat shop about kids who can turn into animals to fight brain slugs. Oh, and their alien friend who was like a deer-centaur that was blue with stalk eyes and no mouth. Seriously. This was a thing. And "The Host" is apparently a much worse version of that thing.

  • duckandcover

    You will speak with respect about Animorphs. That is trashy goodness in the way that a greasy burger in a dark and dank bar at 2 AM while on a diet is trashy goodness.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Word. Animorphs was awesome, classic late 90s YA sci-fi. Sure, the characters were surprisingly asexual despite being at thoroughly hormone-addled ages, but still-- awesomeness. In fact, with a handful of changes it'd make a completely solid CW series now that we have the effects to pull it off.

    Hell, the series treated war more realistically than Harry Potter, which isn't hard to do, of course, but is surprising considering they were hundred and fifty page monthly releases printed in size 14 font. The expectations may have been low, but KA Applegate and however many ghost writers delivered better product than they needed to. Seriously, these kids were forced to let a sociopath onto the team, and then they trapped him as a rat and killed him. Hard. Core. Yo.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Seriously CW, you guys should get on this. Supernatural has to go away sometime, I see no reason not to fill the slot with teenagers who turn into animals and fight body-snatching slugs. Purely as a plot description, it is no worse than, "Two brothers crisscross the country fighting mythical creatures whilst dodging female romantic commitment and gay incest jokes." Also they couldn't take more than underwear with them when they morphed for, like, half the series, so lots of gratuitous underwear from both sexes.

    Honestly, the more I talk about this, the more I am confused as to why this isn't a show yet. Clearly the basic bones of the story are suited to the CW. The series is old enough that the rights are probably cheap. The whole turning into animals driven by instinct thing could totally fuel puberty storylines. This clearly ought to happen.

    ETA: I mean, I get it, there will be Manimal jokes. And for budgetary reasons they'll obviously not be animals as often as in the books. But this is completely practical to do.

  • duckandcover

    I don't think CW would touch it, only because Nickelodeon already did. D:

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    True, but the Nickelodeon thing was so very... 90s, and just not good. If the CW could see their way past it, I could see them having a nice little success on their hands.

  • bleujayone

    Dear Stephenie Meyer,

    I think finally figured out how someone can time and again reap such substantial windfalls as you do for outputting poor product. That obvious solution is that you sold you soul to the Devil. Now that conclusion in and of itself isn't exactly a revelation. Many a hack has been doing that for eons and no doubt will continue to do so until the end of time. But assuming that no one person's soul has any more value than anyone else's, either you have one sterling silver tongue for bargaining with the Underworld (for which your writings would contradict), or you've been backing up that sale of said soul with some serious collateral.

    In other words, you've sold not only your soul but apparently those of everyone around you as well. I never would have thought such a thing were possible as I was under the impression one could not sell any soul save their own. But it would seem you must have found a loophole somewhere in the behemoth tomes of Eternal Damnation Business Law & Negotiation Books of Yale Law School to come up something that keep perpetually rewarding your mediocrity. Strike that. Mediocrity would suggest a moderate level of quality for which your output has never had. I know this because I've actually tried to read your books on more than one occasion. I believe someone writing short stories to accompany the pictograph assembly directions that come with IKEA furniture would result in more compelling stories minus the splitting headaches.

    I imagine this bargain was struck long before you were first published or even graduated from school. I still wonder what kind of institution doles out an English degree to someone who later produces material something akin to schoolchild ramblings just barely this side of literacy if not for outside infernal influence. I've seen people writing personal checks that conveyed more feeling and emotion on the Memo line.

    Enjoy this ride for however long you have left on it. It will all end sooner than you expect and collection of your debt will always come regardless. If it makes you feel any better, many familiar faces are going to be there with you. However, you should expect the reading material won't be any better. Or the music. Or the in-fire entrainment...

  • g00ber

    i wish i could be there the day that, that damned crossroads demon, sends his hell hounds to collect her soul.

  • BlackRabbit

    Wow, that Korean monster movie really got butchered by the editors for America.

  • Ben

    This movie seems so bad I actually stopped reading the review. That is not a commentary about Dustin's writing more about Meyers bullshit.

  • ,

    For five short minutes, we were scathing and bitchy once again.

    I'm gonna miss it when it goes away for two years. Once again..

  • Strand

    Aren't Mormons supposed to be fairly liberal regarding sexuality? Stephanie Meyer has some serious fuckin issues.

  • If by "liberal" you mean told repeatedly that having sex before marriage is a sin second only to murder. I mean, once you're married, you can be all gung-ho about sex, but before? Nope.

  • Hera

    Not all Mormons are like that. :l

  • Fredo

    set in a future where the souls of a kind and civil alien race have
    inhabited the bodies of Earthlings, not to destroy but to assimilate and
    protect what we have taken for granted.

    Who the fuck are these aliens to say "We know better than you do, dumb Earthlings. Nevermind the lobotomy, but this is for your own good"? And who the hell reads this and has any response other than "Wow, this is some awful shit!"??

    In short, I eagerly await the Rifftrax for this movie.

  • duckandcover

    That would actually be a great topic to explore -- however, Meyer doesn't do it. Ever. At all.

  • Maguita NYC

    Alien stories with anal probing have much more credibility than the "assimilation" ones; In light of the full-of-shit crap by the likes SM puts out there for the universe to read, I'd say it's legitimate payback.

  • TotesMcGotes

    Saoirse Ronan is way too talented for this.

  • BlackRabbit

    Is she? I'm not being a jerk, I'm honestly curious. To be fair, that's a low bar you've set for her.

  • TotesMcGotes

    Yeah,she is. She was excellent in Hanna,Atonement and The Lovely Bones. Even Lovely Bones,which is a bad movie,is made watchable by her performance. She was aided by an incredibly creepy Stanley Tucci on this one,tough.

  • goldushapple

    If she was way too talented for The Host then she's way too talented for the cluster f*ck that will be Avengers 2 in which her character, Scarlett Witch, will be a side character.

  • alacrify

    This will inevitably lead to a discussion where the subject of science fiction comes up, and someone (probably someone whose opinions I thought I could respect) says "Oh, sci-fi?! I LOVE sci-fi! The Host is my favorite movie!". And then I will have to leave before I kill them. Or after.

  • alwaysanswerb

    Is vagina murdering going to be a thing now? And here I was, thinking Amanda Bynes would never top She's The Man in cultural contributions.

  • Slash

    Leave it to the Twilight writer to make alien invasion dull by turning it into a teenage romance. To some women, everything should be a teenage romance, with longing looks and almost no sex. How boring they must be to talk to, if they're this boring when they're actually trying to entertain us.

  • Wapunga

    Okay, I am not gonna lie. I actually enjoyed the book. Thought it was an interesting concept and the book was one of those light reads. That being said when I heard the movie was coming out I could not imagine how they were going to do it when so much of the book consists of "internal" dialogue.

    Now I know they didn't.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Jacqueline Susann wrote a sci fi romance novel called "Yargo" that wasn't nearly as stupid as this sounds, I wonder why they never made a movie out of it.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    By the way, she's the author of "Valley of the Dolls", if you're unfamiliar with her. She was the queen of trashy novels back in the day so you can imagine how she treated the subject matter of her "romantic" sci fi.

  • melissa82

    Oh shit I'm such an asshole, sorry I'm on meds so I can't contain myself today...usually I can control myself, maybe the medication is acting as Wanda...and who the fuck names their co-main character Wanda these days?
    Anyway, back to what I'm being a dick over:
    She went through the window, right? "who leaps threw a window in a four story building to avoid alien occupancy"
    and it's insipid not "insipit"

    Alright, I'm just going to avoid my favorite site for a few days so I don't look at the deserved down votes. Why did I even read this review? I hate Stephanie Meyers.

  • *Meyer.

    Unless you're implying there's more than one of her.

  • Tinkerville

    God help us all.

  • Sars

    I read the book on the recommendation of a friend- didn't know anything about Meyer or her horrid writing. I thought the premise was interesting- kind of like seeing the point of view of the body snatchers...

    She butchered the concept though- horrible book. Also, from what I remember her name was "Wandred" or something like that.

  • Ted Zancha

    "She has to save the double penetration for the sequel, I guess."

    This statement makes me extremely uncomfortable knowing that my parents bought "The Host" for my 13 year old sister....

  • Maguita NYC

    "it sticks a finger up the butt of competence, wiggles it around, and holds it under our noses..."

    And if you catch your sister sniffing her finger??

  • April

    Another Stephanie Meyer golden to be splashed all over the place. Damn the teen girls and housewives for making SM think she's actually good at writing.

  • Lee

    I just do not get how all these middle aged women swooned over Edward and Jacob, and imagined themselves as Bella. It's bad enough that legions of teens fell for the empty melodrama, but adults? *Shakes head*

  • dizzylucy

    I know! A woman I knew from high school (who is married, employed, a parent) posts Edward and Twilight photos all the time. I somehow want to gently remind her that she's 36 not 16.

  • dizzylucy

    I just started into this book (because my book club is making really lame selections) and wondered how the movie could be anything but a 2 hour voice over conversation. Question answered, so thank you.

    I was told this was "so much better than Twilight" when questioning the choice of a Stephanie Meyer book, but now I realize that was just simply a bar set so low that blank pages could cross it.

  • Kayla Eric

    just before I saw the paycheck which had said $6495, I did not believe ...that...my neighbours mother woz like they say actually bringing in money in there spare time online.. there uncle has done this 4 less than 13 months and as of now cleard the dept on their villa and bought themselves a Lotus Elise. I went here, Mel7.com

  • Kayla

    Not only do your mathematics still suck crumpled alpaca chode ('4 less than 13'... I think the number you're looking for is 9), but your grammar, too, has gone downhill dramatically since your last post. You also seem to possess startling knowledge of your neighbours goings on, including their financial status, even going so far as to investigate the uncle of the family in question. I'm pretty sure most would file this under a breach of privacy.

    My advice to you, as it is, would be to delete all and any subsequent incriminating posts, and come clean with your neighbours on this subject. This advice is offered in good faith, and comes with the added bonus of my best wishes.

  • Alberto Cox Délano

    Godammit Stephanie Meyer. It's ok if you want to peddle your unerotic smut, but did you had to drag Saoirse Ronan into your pit? It's only because of her that this movie should become a hit, if she weren't in it, how I would enjoy it bombing.

  • rio

    Why Andrew Niccol why??? You has so much potential!!! You gave us Gattaca and The Truman Show!!! Couldn't you just stick to copying Philip Dick??? You are so good at that! ok you were so good at that, what happened? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

  • Stephen Nein

    Oh Hollywood - kinky pg-13 extraterrestrial possession was so much better when John Scalzi wrote it.

  • Kathleen Allen

    could we find a way for something/one to inhabit her body and in a 'jesus, take the wheel' sort of moment, talk her into switching careers? i think she'd make a fine (ok, adequate) crossing guard. someone, make that happen. i'd be willing to chip in on expenses.

  • NateMan

    Can you imagine if Jesus inhabited your body and really took the wheel? I mean, he's been dead for 2,000 years. How's that bastard gonna drive?

    "Holy Me, what is this demonic metal contraption?!"

  • Horatio Postlethwaite

    Something Stephanie Meyer wrote is shit? That's a surprise. Now let them infect every comicon on the planet with this drivel because it means money. Fuckers.

  • NateMan

    I love that Stephanie Meyer wrote this drivel about a character named MELANIE STRYDER, and it somehow wasn't enough of a Mary Sue for the publishing company to say "You know what? Change that shit. No, I don't care if you swapped the initials. This is bullshit and a first year writing student could be more fucking clever."

  • fracas

    I was stuck on the alien called Wanda. Couldn't she have thought of something more... alien?

  • pajiba

    I should actually note that her name is Wanderer, but they called her Wanda for short, but I didn't really want to explain that in the review.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    So- what are all the other aliens called?

  • celery


  • NateMan

    I reject your answer, and substitute that Meyer actually watched A Fish Called Wanda immediately before writing this.

blog comments powered by Disqus