The Host, Directed by Joon-ho Bong, 2006
Is The Host really a science fiction film? Nah, not really.
But it's also not a horror film. Nor is it an action film. It's not even a dysfunctional family comedy. It's actually all of these things at once, miraculously blending genres in a way that has absolutely no right to work but somehow does.
The Host opens with an amazing sequence: a monster emerges from the water and rampages through a South Korean park, tearing many unfortunate folks asunder. It's true that this scene is stunningly shot and truly scary, placing you in a "panicking crowd scene" unlike any other. It's also true that the entire film could have played like this and have been a successful genre picture.
But what makes The Host special is that our cast of characters are beautifully drawn, lovable losers: a grandfather, his three grown children and a granddaughter, all of them screw-ups in one way or another. Amidst the monster mayhem, director Joon-ho Bong finds time for clever banter, sibling rivalry and even a hilarious scene of physical comedy (at a memorial service, no less). I could have watched an entire movie about this family going through their various daily activities, so putting them in a monster movie is just damn inspired. I truly cared about what happened to them and when one of them doesn't make it to the end credits, well...I just felt shattered.