The Host film review.

Note to young men: headbutting is not an acceptable wooing technique.

Release Date: 29 March 2013
12A | 125 minutes
Distributor: Open Road Films
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt

There’s one reason why The Host exists: sparkly vampires.

Adapted from the 2008 novel by Twiglet creator Stephenie Meyer, it’s a film that’s unashamedly cut from the same cloth as the adaptations of Meyer’s most famous works. Love triangle? Check. Absurd melodrama? Check. The nagging feeling that, if you’re anything other than a tween girl, this really isn’t aimed at you? Check…

As in the novel, Earth has been invaded, or rather improved, by benevolent bodysnatchers called Souls (which look like molluscs made of light) who bond with their human hosts to help usher in a utopian society. One of the few remaining humans, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), is captured and implanted with a Soul called Wanderer, but Melanie is able to resist total indoctrination and leads her host body to a colony of human resistance fighters in the desert, where her brother and boyfriend are holed up.

It’s a reasonably intriguing premise, and in the hands of Gattaca’s Andrew Niccol the film is filled with striking imagery (the peace-loving Souls are big fans of chrome supercars, apparently), but the alien invasion soon takes a back seat to the kind of tiresome teen angst where crucial plot points hinge on a kiss. The whole thing is a metaphor for being in two minds about boys, you see. Melanie likes one handsome haircut; Wanderer (Wanda, for short) likes another. It’s clumsy storytelling at best. Only Ronan emerges from the crap-dialogue-minefield relatively unscathed, simply because her performance is streets ahead of anyone else on screen.

You can’t blame them for trying to bottle Twilight’s box office lightning, but The Host is a waste of everyone’s time and money. Blame those pesky bloodsuckers.

Jordan Farley

Watch a The Host clip.
Watch two The Host featurettes.
Watch the The Host trailer.