Young-adult author Stephenie Meyer gained world-wide fame after her debut novel Twilight was adapted to the big screen in 2008. Five years after the release of that film, which launched the careers of actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, another novel of Meyer’s was optioned for an adaptation. The Host was originally published in 2008 as a novel for adults, instead of the young-adult-readership of Twilight, but this same readership adopted the story of The Host as if it were a sequel to their beloved vampire-romance.
Similar to “Twilight,” but featuring aliens instead of vampires, “The Host” follows the story of a young woman torn between two men in a supernatural setting. In “The Host,” hostile aliens, who are called “souls,” have taken over their human hosts and have erased their memories to the point that humanity has practically become extinct. Earth has been invaded, but the souls mean no harm.
“The earth is at peace. There is no hunger. There is no violence. The environment is healed. Honesty, courtesy and kindness are practiced by all. Our world has never been more perfect. Only, it is no longer our world.”
There are a few humans left and one of them, a young woman named Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), is on the run with her little brother, when she is captured by the enemy. The story begins here, when a soul named Wanderer (also played by Saoirse Ronan) is put into Melanie’s body. Another soul, called the Seeker (Diane Kruger), gives Wanderer the task of diving into Melanie’s memories to track down the location of the human resistance. But Melanie fights back, forging an unlikely alliance between two minds in the same body.
Wanderer still has control over the body, but Melanie tries to break free with her mind. Her thoughts are voiced by Ronan and guide Wanderer to the hiding place of the humans, where Melanie’s lover Jared (Max Irons) and her little brother Jamie are. The leader of the resistance, Melanie’s uncle Jeb (William Hurt), is tasked with deciding Wanderer’s fate: kill her, or let her live. Jamie decides Wanderer gets to stay, because he realizes his sister is trapped inside the body Wanderer now controls. At first, uncle Jeb is suspicious of Wanderer, believing she lies to Jamie about Melanie still being alive inside her head, but after a while he, too, discovers the truth.
Wanderer begins to feel at home in the caves where the humans live. Her name is shortened to “Wanda” and a romance blooms between her and one of the humans, Ian (Jake Abel). Unfortunately, Wanda lives in Melanie’s body, and she still loves Jared. This complicated love-triangle is interrupted when the souls are close to discovering their hiding place and Wanda is forced to return to the dangers of the alien world.
“The Host” was released in 2013 to a hail of negative reviews from critics, who almost universally panned the film as “the worst of 2013.” Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called the film “a dramatic sink-hole” and Manohlia Dargis of The New York Times thought “The Host” was “dopey, derivative and dull.” Based on the opinion of 28 film critics, “The Host” was given a very low 35 out of 100 on Metacritic. But why is “The Host” one of the worst films of 2013? Mainly, because the film does not do Meyer’s novel justice.
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