Gwoemul (2006)

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Writers: Chul-hyun Baek

Joon-ho Bong

Won-jun Ha

Tagline: It is Lurking Behind You

Plot: A monster emerges from Seoul’s Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people

Cast: Kang-ho Song – Park Gang-Du

Hie-bong Byeon – Park Hie-bong

Hae-il Park – Park Nam-il

Doona Bae – Park Nam-Joo

Ah-sung Ko – Park Hyun-seo

Review (spoilers):

I have to admit that I never was a big fan of Asian cinematography. I’ m not very interested in it so I haven’t watched a lot of Asian movies.  In conclusion to that I didn’t know what to expect from Gwoemul (or “The Host” – the English translation). However, the movie itself was a pleasant surprise! I found it to be more than very enjoyable. It surely is one of the best monster movies I’ve seen in a long time. The monster in Gwoemul is a giant mutated fish of some sort (or something like that) that lives in sewers near Seoul’s Han River. One day it starts to attack people who are relaxing near the river. During that attack the monster takes a girl named Hyun-seo with it. Now her all family are out to get her back.

The most magnificent thing in Gwoemul is that it perfectly combines lots of genres into one great experience. It’s not only relying on horror elements but also has some humour in it and some good aspects that make a strong family drama. Besides all that, the movie has a political background based on real events. In addition to the movie’s elements the script writing was descent. The idea for the plot is not a genre breaking one but realizing this particular idea was a nice job. This movie made me laugh, smile and giggle during some scenes while in other parts it made me want to burst into tears. It just leaves a strong impression on you. It has likeable (and developed) characters whose life was turned around by this monster and they have to go through this bad events together, like a family. However, don’t get me wrong because this is more than a shallow family movie.  The horror elements in it also left me speechless. The main emotion that goes follows you through the movie is desperation. The father of Hyun-seo, Gang-Du, knows that his daughter is alive but he can’t save her that easily from the monster although her life is in danger. This is real desperation. When you combine that with a dark atmosphere of Seoul’s sewers in which a mutated monster resides you get a real horror atmosphere. An atmosphere which can be rarely seen in modern horror movies. The effects on the monster was also great, it seemed so frighting but in the same time so real and “possible” to imagine.

Unfortunately, this movie isn’t so perfect as it may seem, it has it’s bad sides.  The main problem about it is it’s length. It we would be much better if it was cut by at least 10 – 15 minutes. Because the movie doesn’t offer something that will keep you entertained all the time. So as I moved toward the end the movie had more and more nonsenses in the plot and unnecessary scenes. At some point of the movie it starts to lose it’s touch a little, which is not such an awful thing, but it makes up for it during the finale. I also had a problem with several scenes which I found to be a little too naive, especially some twists, but I won’t spoil that out.

My Rating: 8/10… Gwoemul is one of those movies you should watch as soon as possible. It is really worth watching because it stands out from other modern movies.

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