The Host

The Host

2013, PG-13, 125 min. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Chandler Canterbury, Frances Fisher, Scott Lawrence.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 5, 2013

Twilight scribe Stephenie Meyer’s 2008 sci-fi novel The Host was pitched at an adult audience, but this film adaptation feels like YA, with cat’s-cradle love matches, soft-focus sexuality, and a main character who never satisfactorily makes the transition from page to screen.

Andrew Niccol, a frequent imaginer of future-imperfect scenarios (Gattaca, In Time), adapts and directs this story of Earth under peaceable siege. After an unseen war in which an alien species seizes control by occupying human bodies, the planet has “healed itself.” The aliens (called Souls) are nonviolent, respectful of the environment, and exceedingly polite – all-around excellent additions to the neighborhood, were it not for that whole body-snatching business. When a Soul occupies a human body, the host’s consciousness typically melts away, but not so in the case of Melanie (Ronan), whose mind refuses to go quietly into the night, even as an alien named Wanderer sets up house in Melanie’s skin. When Wanderer arrives at a human resistance camp (set in a cave and a production-design triumph), she develops a crush on a resistance fighter named Ian (Abel), while Melanie, a victim of locked-in syndrome, continues to pine for her old boyfriend, Jared (Irons).

Three bodies plus four minds is some fertile arithmetic, but The Host can’t be bothered with the intellectual or kinky ramifications of its setup. Niccol is splashing around the strictly shallow waters of wounded looks and PG-13 secretive smooching, and the better-suited-to-a-book depiction of the Wanderer/Melanie dynamic – dreamy-eyed alien girl and the disembodied voice in her head – is fatally doofy.

READ MORE
More Andrew Niccol Films
Good Kill
Ethan Hawke pilots drones over Afghanistan from a trailer in the Nevada desert

Steve Davis, June 12, 2015

In Time
Andrew Niccol writes and directs this science fiction thriller that stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.

Kimberley Jones, Nov. 4, 2011

More by Kimberley Jones
Lucky
Cranky loner (and beloved character actor) faces mortality

Oct. 13, 2017

Future Imperfect: Our Favorite Dystopian Films
Our Favorite Dystopian Films
VOTE: Deadly roller derby, sad clones, and a Road Warrior duke it out

Sept. 28, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Host, Andrew Niccol, Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Chandler Canterbury, Frances Fisher, Scott Lawrence

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)