Did you see The Host? I didn't think so. Despite it being one of the better-reviewed movies of the year (92% fresh, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and at Cinematical both James and Jeffrey liked it, to varying degrees), what was most commonly called 'a Korean monster movie' failed to cross over to a broad audience outside South Korea, where it smashed box office records. It was by no means a complete failure -- it earned more than two million dollars in its US release, a very respectable amount for an arthouse picture -- yet something limited the word of mouth. Was it the unusual mixture of genres, the hairpin curves shifting from dysfunctional family comedy/drama to horror and then back again? Were people expecting more rampaging by the monster? Were the Korean cultural references and political satire too confounding? Was it the subtitles? I saw it with two very different festival audiences (Fantastic Fest in Austin: mostly Caucasian; AFI Fest in Los Angeles: mostly Asian), and both received The Host rapturously. As a big fan of the film, I'm as baffled as anyone else.

Perhaps people will respond differently, and in greater numbers, when the next Korean monster movie, D-War opens in late August and Los Angeles is terrorized by a giant serpent. Freestyle Releasing certainly must hope so; it's planning to put that sucker out on 1500 screens, according to Variety. D-War stars Jason Behr,Amanda Brooks,Robert Forster (yay!) and Chris Mulkey; with the latter two personal faves on board, it can't be all bad. The budget was originally reported to be $70 million, though Korean producer/distributor Showbox now says that price included start-up costs for a local effects house. Even at a reported $32 million, the budget is three times what Showbox forked out for their previous monster movie (you guessed it: The Host). Frankly, the trailer on the Korean site looks pretty cheesy; still, it's in English, it looks to have some camp appeal and late August is traditionally a dead time at the box office, so maybe the kids will check it out. May the best monster win.
categories Cinematical