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|
|Editing by||Thomas J. Nordberg|
|Studio||Nick Wechsler Productions
|Distributed by||Open Road Films
|Running time||125 minutes|
The Host is a 2013 American romantic science fiction 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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2013)|
The human race has been taken over by extraterrestrial parasitic aliens called "Souls," identifiable by silver rings that form in their eyes. Melanie Stryder, a human, is captured by a seeker (Diane Kruger) and infused with a soul called "Wanderer", in order to discover the location of one of the last pockets of non-assimilated humans. Melanie's personality survives the procedure and begins to struggle for control of her body. Wanderer learns that Melanie was captured while travelling with her brother, Jamie and her boyfriend, Jared Howe, to find Melanie's uncle Jeb in the desert. Wanderer loses control of Melanie and the Seeker decides to be inserted into Melanie 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 underground caves hidden inside a mountain, which he had found, and learns that Jared and Jamie have made it there safely.
Wanderer's presence in the shelter is met with hostility from the surviving humans, and only the threat of Jeb's shotgun prevents them from killing her. Seeing this, Melanie instructs Wanderer not to tell anyone she is still alive, since doing so would provoke them, although she later allows her to tell Jamie, to put his mind at ease. Over time, 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 Ian O'Shea, one of her former attackers. Through this, she begins to sympathise with them, and question her species' actions. Meanwhile, the Seeker manages to track Wanderer down, and leads a search party into the desert to find her. They eventually locate one of the shelter's supply teams, led by Jared and Ian's brother, Kyle, and in the ensuing chase, two of their friends commit suicide to avoid capture. While chasing Kyle and Jared, the Seeker accidentally kills another Soul with one of their firearms, leading her superiors to call off the search.
At the shelter, a vengeful Jared and Kyle move to kill Wanderer, and in the confrontation that ensues, Jamie reveals that Melanie is still alive, shocking everyone. Shaken, Jared at first refuses to accept this, but having a dream about Melanie, he finds Wanderer and kisses her, provoking Melanie to slap him away, and Jared realises that she is indeed still alive. Shortly after this, Kyle makes another attempt on Wanderer's life, but she manages to fight him off, accidentally knocking him into a hot spring. She barely manages to pull him to safety, and, when questioned, insists that he fell by accident. Although nobody believes her, Kyle is let off. After this incident, Ian admits to Wanderer that he has fallen for her, and insists that it is her and her personality that 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, to Melanie's anger.
Shortly after, Wanderer happens upon the community's medical facility, and learns that Doc, the community's medic, has been experimenting with ways to remove Souls and restore their hosts, killing many in the process. Traumatised, she rushes from the facility, yelling at a protesting Melanie to get out of her head. After isolating herself for several days, she learns that Jamie is critically ill from a wound he picked up while harvesting. She and Jared decide to infiltrate a Soul medical facility to steal some of their medicine. On the way home, they are ambushed by the Seeker, who had come looking for Wanderer on her own, and Jeb captures her, imprisoning her in Wanderer's cell. After Jamie is healed, Wanderer offers to show Doc the method of removing Souls, on the condition that he remove her from Melanie's body, and let her die. Melanie, who has grown to love Wanderer, is devastated.
Wanderer then demonstrates the technique, removing the Seeker from her host, and the original owner, Lacey, regains control of her body. They then send the Seeker to a planet far enough from Earth that it will never return within anyone's lifetime. After learning of her agreement with Doc, the humans are upset, but despite Ian and Melanie's protests, they ultimately accept her decision . As Doc prepares to go through with the procedure, Melanie and Wanderer share an emotional farewell. Melanie tells Wanderer that she is the "purest soul" that there is, and Wanderer responds that, having lived so many lives, she has finally found something to die for. She closes her eyes, and awaits death. The other humans intervene, and Doc instead inserts her into Pet (Emily Browning), a human who was left brain-dead after the Soul inside her was removed, thereby ensuring that Wanderer can live without harming another soul. Though initially dismayed, Wanderer accepts what they did. Now with a body of her own, she 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 caught by Souls who appear to be Seekers, but when confronted by one, do not notice his unusual practice of brandishing a gun. After being searched, they discover that the group are actually a team of surviving humans, who reveal that there are several other groups as well. The Soul who is with them reveals that he has sided with the flourishing human resistance, as Wanderer has, and they may not be the last to do so.
- Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder/Wanderer/Wanda
- Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea
- Max Irons as Jared Howe
- Frances Fisher as Maggie Stryder
- Chandler Canterbury as Jamie Stryder
- Diane Kruger as The Seeker/Lacey
- William Hurt as 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
- Alexandria Morrow as Soul
- Emily Browning as Pet/Wanderer
- Mustafa Harris as Brandon
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.
Distributed by Open Road Films, the film was released theatrically on March 29, 2013. The first official trailer was released on March 22, 2012 and was later shown before The Hunger Games. The Host was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 9, 2013.
The film grossed $48,227,201 worldwide, of which $26,627,201 was from North America. 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 theatre.
The Host has been near universally panned by critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives a 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".
Roth Cornet of IGN gave it a "mediocre" score of 5/10, stating that the movie 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