The Host (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Niccol|
|Screenplay by||Andrew Niccol|
|Based on||The Host
by Stephenie Meyer
|Music by||Antonio Pinto|
|Edited by||Thomas J. Nordberg|
Nick Wechsler Productions
|Running time||125 minutes|
The Host is a 2013 American romantic science fiction thriller film adapted from Stephenie Meyer's novel of the same name. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt, and Diane Kruger. Released on March 29, 2013, the film has been generally panned by critics.
The humans have been taken over by small parasitic aliens called "Souls". The Souls travel to distant planets en masse, in individual capsules, inserting themselves individually into a host body of that planet's dominant species. The Soul completely replaces the consciousness of its host, though they are able to access the host's memories. Occupied hosts are identifiable by silver rings that form in the hosts' eyes.
Melanie Stryder is captured and infused with a soul called "Wanderer." Wanderer is asked by Seeker to access Melanie's memories in order to discover the location of a pocket of unassimilated humans. Surprisingly, Melanie's consciousness has not been eliminated, and it struggles for control of her body. Melanie and Wanderer are able to carry out an internal conversation with each other, forming something of a friendship.
Wanderer does share with Seeker that Melanie was traveling with her brother, Jamie and her boyfriend, Jared Howe, to find Melanie's uncle Jeb in the desert. Wanderer admits that Melanie is still present, so Seeker decides to be transferred into Melanie's body to get the information herself. With the help of Melanie, Wanderer escapes and makes her way to the desert, where she is eventually found by Jeb, who takes her to a series of caves hidden inside a mountain, where the pocket of humans (including Jared and Jamie) is hiding.
Wanderer's presence in the shelter is met with hostility by all but Jeb and Jamie. Seeing this, Melanie instructs Wanderer not to tell anyone she is still alive, fearing that doing so would only provoke them, though she later allows her to tell Jamie, to put his mind at ease. Wanderer begins interacting with the humans and participating in their harvest, and slowly begins to gain their trust, as well as forming a bond with human Ian O'Shea. Through this, she begins to sympathize with them, and question her species' actions.
Seeker leads a search party into the desert to find Wanderer. They intercept one of the shelter's supply teams, and in the ensuing chase, Aaron and Brandt commit suicide to avoid capture and conversion. During the chase, Seeker accidentally kills another Soul, leading her superiors to call off the search.
Returning to the caves, a vengeful Jared and Kyle move to kill Wanderer, causing Jamie to reveal that Melanie's consciousness is still alive. Jeb and Ian accepts this, showing concern for the two beings in one body. Jared refuses to believe him, but, after having a dream about Melanie, attempts to determine the truth by kissing Wanderer, provoking Melanie to slap him away, and he realises that she is indeed still alive. Kyle makes another attempt on Wanderer's life, but he slips into a deadly whirlpool in the ensuing battle. She pulls him to safety, but does not tell the others that he had attacked her. Ian believes that Kyle had attacked Wanderer and tells her that he loves her, insisting that Wanderer's own personality (such as protecting Kyle) is what he loves, rather than Melanie's body. Wanderer admits that, while occupying Melanie's body, she must love Jared, but that she has feelings of her own, and the two share a kiss, creating an unusual love triangle—three bodies and four minds.
Sometime later, Wanderer enters the community's medical facility, and discovers that Doc has been experimenting with ways to remove Souls and allow the host's mind to regain control, resulting in the deaths of many Souls and Hosts from his failed experiments. Traumatized, she rushes from the facility, screaming at a protesting Melanie to "get out of my head!" After isolating herself for several days, Wanderer learns that Jamie is critically ill with a high fever and infection in his leg due to injuring himself with a sickle during the harvest. She infiltrates a Soul medical facility to steal some of their alien medicine, saving Jamie's life.
Seeker has continued looking for Wanderer on her own, and eventually attempting to murder Wanderer, although she is stopped by Jeb, who then captures Seeker and imprisons her in the caves. Wanderer offers to show Doc the proper method of removing Souls, on the condition that he remove her from Melanie's body and let her die. Doc uses the technique to successfully remove Seeker from her host, with both Host and Soul surviving. Wanderer takes the Seeker alien to a Soul space-travel site, where she sends it to a planet far enough from Earth that it can not return for numerous generations. The plan is to continue freeing hosts and sending the souls to occupy hosts on distant planets.
Wanderer makes Doc promise to let her die when she is removed and not tell anyone, telling Melanie that she does not want to live without her new human friends. Their friends intervene with Doc, who then inserts Wanderer into Pet, a human who was left brain-dead after the Soul inside her was safely removed. Now with a body of her own, Wanderer and Ian form a relationship, while Melanie is finally reunited with Jared.
A few months later, while on a supply-gathering trip, Wanderer, Melanie, Ian and Jared are captured. They discover that their captors are actually humans, who reveal that there are several other human groups as well. They also learn that there is a Soul with this group that has sided with the flourishing human resistance, as Wanderer has, and they may not be the last Souls to do so.
- Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder / Wanderer "Wanda"
- Max Irons as Jared Howe
- Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea
- Frances Fisher as Maggie Stryder
- Chandler Canterbury as Jamie Stryder
- Diane Kruger as The Seeker / Lacey
- William Hurt as Jebediah "Jeb" Stryder
- Boyd Holbrook as Kyle O'Shea
- Scott Lawrence as Doc
- Shawn Carter Peterson as Wes
- Lee Hardee as Aaron
- Phil Austin as Charles
- Raeden Greer as Lily
- J.D. Evermore as Trevor Stryder
- Emily Browning as Pet / Wanderer "Wanda"
- Mustafa Harris as Brandt
- Bokeem Woodbine as Nate
- Alex Russell as Seeker Burns
Producers Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, and Paula Mae Schwartz acquired the film rights to The Host in September 2009, but Open Road Films later acquired the film rights, and made Stephenie Meyer, Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, and Paula Mae Schwartz the main producers. Andrew Niccol was hired to write the screenplay and to direct the film. In February 2011, Susanna White was hired to replace Niccol as director, but he later resumed the role in May 2011.
Saoirse Ronan was also cast in May as Melanie Stryder/Wanderer. On June 27, the release date was set for the film for March 29, 2013, and it was also announced that principal photography would begin in February 2012, in Louisiana and New Mexico.
The Host was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 9, 2013.
The film grossed $63,327,201 worldwide, of which $26,627,201 was from North America, and $36,700,000 from other territories. It opened at #6 at the US box office, and for its opening weekend grossed $10,600,112; screened at 3,202 theaters it averaged $3,310 per theater.
The Host was panned by critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives an 8% rating based on 118 reviews, with an average score of 3.6/10. The site's consensus states: "Poorly scripted and dramatically ineffective, The Host is mostly stale and tedious, with moments of unintentional hilarity." At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 35 based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film an unfavorable review, calling it “a brazen combination of unoriginal science-fiction themes, young-adult pandering and bottom-line calculation”. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter felt that "it's cloaked in yawningly familiar teen-romance terms and cries out for even a little seasoning of wit, irreverence, political smarts and genre twists that, given the well-trod terrain, seem like requisites when presenting visions of the near future.”
Roth Cornet of IGN gave it a "mediocre" score of 5/10, stating that the film is "unintentionally laughable" and "frustratingly absurd". Cornet says that it could have made an interesting story but that the contradictions of the peaceful but parasitic Souls were not fully explained, in the case of the character Seeker only given a shallow unsatisfying explanation. She praises Ronan for her performance and blames a "fundamentally flawed" script. Ben Kenigsberg of Time Out magazine blames the source material, crediting Niccol for making the best of it, but primarily blaming the high-definition–video cinematography saying it makes "what once would have been a lush, grand-scale blockbuster appear cheap and televisual."
The Host was the penultimate film to be reviewed by film critic Roger Ebert before his death on April 4, 2013, and the last major film to be published in his lifetime. He rated the film 2.5/4 stars, saying "The Host is top-heavy with profound, sonorous conversations, all tending to sound like farewells. The movie is so consistently pitched at the same note, indeed, that the structure robs it of possibilities for dramatic tension."
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- Official website
- The Host at the Internet Movie Database
- Stephenie Meyer's The Host webpage
- The Host soundtrack