The Host ★★★★½

All of Bong Joon-ho’s movies are about monsters, some more literally than others. In “Memories of Murder,” the monster is the boogeyman, ripped from the headlines and hiding in the darkness. In “Snowpiercer,” the monster is the abstract force of capitalism, rotting us from the inside out as we eat each other to survive and maintain some semblance of order at the end of the world. And in “The Host,” the wild 2006 genre mash-up that firmly established Bong as a creative force of nature and afforded him the cache to make “Mother” in 2009, the monster is… well, it’s an actual fucking monster, with slimy skin and a prehensile tail and a sweet tooth for small children.

The special effects haven’t aged particularly well, but the creature — which Bong and his team modeled after Steve Buscemi’s feral performance in “Fargo” — is nevertheless a marvelous creation. An overgrown sewer chimera whose mouth has so many strange folds that you’re still trying to make sense of them all at the end of the movie (it’s more important that a CG villain be curious than convincing), the monster is scary and silly in equal measure, unpredictable to the bitter end. You never know where it’s going to pop up, or what might be the next thing to come retching out of its multi-layered maw. And yet, the most unpredictable thing about this gnarly digital wonder is that “The Host” actually lets us look at it.

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