Man have I not been looking forward to watching this again. I watched this movie a couple of months ago after I actually finished reading the book but long before I decided reading the remaining chapters again was the worst torture I could imagine. It’s every bit as terrible the second time through.
So I’m sure by now we all picked up on the ever so subtle racism running throughout the book right? The ‘souls’ are very clearly named in the style you would imagine an ignorant white person would imagine Native American names to sound, and they’re all lovers of the Earth and peaceful and all the violent humans are white as the driven snow, but the white people are the ones showing the peaceful naturists that they’re missing out on fun or something. I’m not the only person that picked up on that right? Anyway, the movie clearly did pick up on it, because as far as I can tell they went really far out of their way to make as much of the cast on both sides of the conflict be played by black actors as they could get away with.
That’s not really relevant, I just wanted to point out that the producers validated my cries of racism throughout the whole book (though I tended to be calling Wanderer out for specism I suppose). Though I will highlight that Doc gets played by a Scott Lawrence who I’ve only seen get bit parts in cop dramas and unnamed background character roles in movies. I point this out because despite them only being bit parts I noticed him enough to remember him specifically because I thought he did an exceptional job whenever I saw him, so I was a mix between very pleased to see him get a bigger role and incredibly saddened that it was in The Host… He deserves way better than that.
The actual movie itself is crap. You knew it was going to be crap. I think the studio knew it was going to be crap, which is probably why I was only vaguely aware of its existence when it came out unlike Twilight and the upcoming 50 Shades movie. There was no real push on this because the whole world knew it was going to suck. Somehow it actually manages to suck harder than the book. And that’s saying a LOT.
It starts off the same as the book with Fords Deep Water inserting Wanderer into Melanie. I would like to point out that the size of the alien being inserted into the cranium would without even a shred of doubt murder the fuck out of the host human. There is not a lot of empty space in your skull. Because if there was, every time you stepped on the brakes for a stop sign any faster than coming to a slow crawl your brain would slam so hard into your skull you’d have at least a concussion if not die. There is not enough space for the worms. There just isn’t. They’re the size of your fucking hand! Inserted into the brainstem! Just no! And you can’t even claim that they shrink or they’re like memory foam and just squish up, because they would still displace the same amount of pressure just into different areas, and there is no area in your head or your spine that has enough room to house something the size of your hand without resulting in you dying or at best being paralyzed from the neck down. Sorry, just no.
Actually I lied, it starts off with a really weird narration by Uncle Jeb. He talks about how perfect the Earth is now that humans aren’t in charge, and then tries to build tension about the remaining human’s lives being at stake. It comes off as kind of weird. And then Melanie and Jamie are in a hotel. Melanie gets Jamie to hide, and then the aliens corner Melanie as she distracts them from his location so he can get away. But unlike in the book, the seekers are genuinely unarmed and are calmly talking to her trying to get her to put down her weapon and talk to them. Which goes with the weirdness of the message from the narration. So far while the tone seems to suggest that the humans are the protagonists, the movie itself clearly thinks the humans are evil and the aliens are perfect.
Anyway, back to the insertion. Through the whole thing there is this beautiful violin piece playing music that seems to suggest that this is just the most beautiful scene in the whole wide world. Again, this whole movie doesn’t seem to believe that the humans are in the right.
When Wanderer wakes up, there’s no sign whatsoever of the confusion or disorientation described in the books. No sign of conflict or adjustment to the body at all except that she speaks… like… this… when she gives herself a name. Which is a whole 3 words. And even the Seeker is calm and respectful. The only thing she does in this scene is say ‘when will she be able to work?’ and Fords responds ‘not now’, and she’s perfectly polite, no sign of sarcasm or annoyance, ‘of course Healer.’ And scene over.
I’m sorry to the actors in this, but my god, most of them are absolutely terrible. I know they have very little to work with, but jesus christ. A few of them are clearly decent actors just given nothing to work with, but most of them (including unfortunately THE MAIN CHARACTER) kind of really do a terrible job. I don’t know if they’re just bad or if they just knew this was going to suck and didn’t care, but they sure as fucking hell do not make this an easy sit. Wanderer comes off as engaging as a 2×4 and Melanie (done entirely in voice over with a filter to make it sound like she’s speaking from the other end of a tunnel) has this bad Southern drawl, and is constantly sounding panicked and angry even when the context doesn’t call for it.
When Wanderer first realizes that Melanie is still alive, it happens because Melanie ‘wakes up’ (complete with ‘omg I just had a nightmare and must burst out of bed!’ gasp) and says she’s still alive and declares “This body is mine!” to which Wanderer gets up, looks at herself in the mirror and says, out loud for some reason (probably because having the majority of the movie be internal dialogue would get really confusing. Probably also why Melanie has an accent and Wanderer doesn’t), ‘No… mine…’ in the most non-committal way possible. Then that’s it. Scene over, moving on, nothing to see here!
The next scene Seeker has her in an interrogation room and goes over some expository dialogue about how the Soul’s work as though Wanderer doesn’t already know. The whole time Melanie just keeps randomly piping in to be a bitch. And yeah I know I felt bad for Melanie in the books, but seriously, the movie really really makes the humans look like the assholes. So much so that I have a hard time feeling for her! Not that I like Wanderer either since at this point the two quotes I’ve given you are literally the only things she’s said. I’ve not left out so much as a gasp. Ten minutes in and our lead character has said five words.
They do a flashback to show Melanie’s backstory and it is so goddamn stupid… She literally lives in a swamp in Louisiana. I have never been to Louisiana, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most people in that state do not live in the swamp. Complete with the house being on support beams in the water itself. Her dad shoots himself in the head while Melanie and Jamie hide in plain sight. Not kidding, they are hiding under the house which we can actually see from the vantage point of some of the oncoming seeker cars, so there’s no reason they wouldn’t have found them, they just don’t for some reason. And unlike the book, Wanderer learns she has a brother long before she learns she has a lover, again twisting Melanie’s character into something less likeable.
After that Wanderer walks home and looks around at all the happy people just living their lives in peace and says to Melanie that she understands where she’s coming from, but they have to think of the greater good. And while it does still reek of hypocrisy, it’s harder to see Melanie’s side of the story in this adaptation. Melanie counters that it’s murder, and I don’t disagree. But it’s harder to think it’s not kind of justified when everything we’ve seen about the humans so far is violence, and the only things we’ve seen from the aliens are technological advancement, peace, and offers to sit down and talk things over like adults.
The scene where Melanie meets Jared is okay. The actor playing Jared does an alright job and they almost have chemistry. Melanie’s manipulation of Wanderer is waaaaaaay more obvious in the movie though than it was in the book though. In the book she kind of just is wallowing in her happy memories and that’s why they keep coming up, but in the movie she’s deliberately trying to make Wanderer fall for Jared to get her to stop giving away their secrets.
God this movie is dull… There’s absolutely no tension. I can’t give a shit about any of the characters at all and it’s not just because I know they all suck because of the book. It’s because they’re all so goddamn bland! Seeker raises her voice at one point but it’s only because Wanderer keeps giving her just enough information to suggest she knows more, but then saying she’s got nothing more, and Seeker is kind of understandably frustrated. But then she apologizes and calms down and there’s no more emotion at all. I assume that was intentional given that the souls are supposed to have much more controlled emotions than humans, but it’s soooooo boooooring.
I’m going to take a moment to talk about the visuals. In the book, everything is basically the same as it was. They keep our cars and buildings. In the movie, all the seekers drive tin foil on wheels. And I don’t mean they just crumple in action scenes, I mean they’re made of hyper reflective aluminum/chrome for some reason. It’s weird. Yet there are regular cars around too. Just the seeker vehicles (also a helicopter and motorcycles, not just cars) are shiny reflective metal. It is never explained why. Also all the seekers are always wearing white, and all the humans are always wearing greys and browns. Again with the aliens are pure and humans are dirty motif muddying who’s in the right here. Which would be fine in a movie that actually asked that question, but they don’t here. So making it so much less clear who’s right and who’s wrong just makes it confusing as hell.
Anyway, back to the movie. Melanie attacks Seeker, then they lock Wanderer up to try and do the body switch thing they were going to do in the book. So instead of just driving off on her own, Melanie forces her to escape by jumping from a third floor balcony into a fountain that should not at all be deep enough to break her landing but suddenly turns into a pool when she jumps. Melanie tells her they need to steal a car, so Wanderer walks up to someone driving past, politely asks for his station wagon, and he asks if there’s anything else he can help her with, that it’s a very reliable model, and that the tank is full as she drives off with it. And again I feel like the humans are the jerks.
Wanderer thinks they’re going to see Fords to just get her removed so the Seeker can’t get her memories, but Melanie floods her with flashbacks to distract her while she takes over and leads them to the hideout. Wanderer justifiably gets ‘pissed’ (she kind of sounds annoyed) and turns the car around to head to Fords when she realizes what’s happening, so Melanie fights for control again and ends up flipping the car over. And again the human comes off as the douchebag. Remember how in the book it was Wanderer who CHOSE to go there instead of killing Melanie? Because Melanie had no control at all, causing her to be more sympathetic because she was trapped in her own body with no say whatsoever over what happened to it? Here she seems to be able to take over a decent amount and always does so in a way that gets Wanderer hurt, while Wanderer is trying to do right by her.
They nearly die in the desert like in the books, and Jeb finds them. The scene is actually pretty close to how it goes in the book, so I’m not going to bother going over it.
Kyle is small. In the books I kind of pictured him as being the size of The Undertaker, but instead he’s just kinda lanky I guess. He’s not really small, but I could kick his ass without even trying. This is not how I pictured him at all…
Actually nothing at all is how I pictured it. Melanie is supposed to be a soccer player, but the actress is so skinny you can see all her bones THROUGH HER CLOTHES. There’s no way in hell she’s athletic. Jared is about the same size as Kyle, Ian is a little skinnier than either of them, and all three guys faces look damn near identical. I have watched this movie more than once and I STILL can’t tell them apart. The cave is MASSIVE. The biggest lava caverns are barely 6 feet tall in real life, but the cave system in this movie is absofuckinglutely MASSIVE. The hole they stuck her in in the books was so small she couldn’t sit up, but here it’s tall enough to stand in and have space left over, and she’s laid out on a cot carved out of the stone on the wall, and there’s electric lights EVERYWHERE.
When they take her in, Jamie is the one who saves her instead of Jeb or Jared, which, fine, whatever. Jared still slaps her silly. Kyle and Ian show up and try and kill her, Jeb comes and stops them, the scene is similar enough to in the books. Ian gets his first lines in the movie shortly after when they have the scene from the book where he expresses questions over Wanderer’s loyalties to the aliens. At this point we have not actually seen WANDERER have questions over her loyalties to the aliens, because until being found by Jeb she was still planning on handing Melanie over to be disposed of, but whatever.
They shove in basically every scene from the books except the ones with Walter (the old man who dies of cancer) and the ones where she discusses the other alien species (thank fucking christ). But they go over them so fast and cut so much that we get absolutely no character development at all. Which is terrifying because I already thought there was none in the books, but somehow they manage to make there be even LESS. I have NO idea why Wanderer is suddenly on their side in the movie. At least in the books she CHOSE to go to them. Here she was forced to and she doesn’t seem to care for them as far as I can tell.
Anyway Jared goes on his expedition and Jeb shows Wanderer the absolutely huge wheat field. Seeker flies overhead and so Wanderer helps them move the mirrors so they don’t give them away, and that’s how she wins them over. Because she didn’t try and stop them. She’s 80lbs soaking wet and there’s like, 40 of them. So Jeb gives her to Jamie as a pet (that’s kind of how it feels) and she starts to get comfortable, and all through this Ian doesn’t have another line yet. He’s not hanging out with her, they’re not talking, nothing. This is important.
She admits to Jamie that Melanie is in fact still alive while Jamie shows her a glow worm cave I’m not certain actually exists in that part of the world but I don’t care enough to look it up. Everybody cries and we’re supposed to be moved I guess.
The movie cuts to Jared and the raiders and they’re going to all the places that they spend a stupid amount of time in the books talking about how they never go to because it’s too dangerous. And then Jared is made out to be a fucking sociopath when he sets a trap for one of the souls and knocks the guy out (who WAS NOT ATTACKING THEM) and stuffs him in their van for experimentation. I was kind of under the impression in the books that they only did this when they had no other way of escaping without hurting the aliens, but nope! In the movie they just abduct people! In a way that comes off as coldly calculating and massively psychotic!
We switch back to the caves and suddenly Wanderer is crushing on Ian. Again, THEY HAVE NOT SPOKEN EVEN ONCE THAT THE MOVIE HAS SHOWN! NOT ONCE! Not even here! They’re just making googly eyes at each other! And Melanie is being a bitch about it too. She’s freaking out and telling Wanderer to stop even smiling at him. In the books the problem was that Ian was getting handsy with her body, here she’s just like ‘you’re not allowed to be friendly, bitch!’ And again, the humans are the assholes in this exchange.
Back to the raiders, the humans are speeding on the highway and thus the seekers try and stop them to inform them they are going over the speed limit and should be safer, and the humans SHOOT THEM WITH SHOTGUNS. Once again, the aliens were not at ALL being aggressive. No weapons, no ‘OMG HUMANS, CALLING BACKUP!’ they were ‘hey, you are speeding and that is dangerous! Please be safe!’ and the humans respond by opening fire and murdering them. And we’re supposed to feel bad for the humans when they’re stopped and then they kill themselves. Yeah, that happens too. They fucking drive into a brick wall at ramming speed and flatten themselves. This scene is supposed to be tense and sad. I found it psychotic and unnecessarily violent.
While Jared and Kyle are trying to get away in the second van they intercut the scene with Wanderer telling stories about how peaceful the aliens are while Kyle shoots them with his gun while the seekers continue to not shoot back. They’re about to successfully get away when there’s only one seeker left close enough to catch up, so Jared slams on the brakes and the seekers car gets totaled when he can’t stop in time. The guy lives, but can’t take chase. But instead of just, you know, speeding off like a sane person (and like the character in the book would have done because his priority was keeping everyone safe and alive) this version of Jared gets out of the truck to try and abduct the seeker!
The main Seeker with no name making this scene really confusing to discuss this way comes along. She grabs Kyle’s gun which he had dropped in the crash and opens fire, accidentally shooting the other seeker in the head before Jared can make off with him. She killed the seeker and looks horrified at herself and the weapon, hands shaking. And seriously, reread the last two or three paragraphs. HOW ARE THE HUMANS NOT THE VILLAINS IN THIS MOVIE!?
Some other seekers catch up and ask why she would pick up their weapons and use them, and she says they’re at war. The others say that, no, they’re not. The humans are so few in number they can just be left in peace without issue. THE ALIENS JUST WANT TO LEAVE THEM ALONE SO EVERYONE CAN BE HAPPY! If I had written this movie I would have fucking ended it with Wanderer becoming a peace envoy between the species and having the souls give them a city and open up trading between them! Have everyone live in peace, and have them intermingle and everyone gets to be fucking happy. The Earth stays the peaceful and technologically advanced place the aliens made it, and the remaining humans get to remain violent and horrible… I mean human… They get to remain human…
Anyway, finally Wanderer and Ian have some dialogue together and they are already madly in love with each other, and Ian is loving and respectful and kind. So, he’s a completely different character they just happened to give Ian’s name to. And Melanie is once again a bitch about it. To a very unreasonable degree.
Jared and Kyle come back, Jared does the kissing test scene and then just trusts her. But he somehow comes off as an even bigger prick in the movie than he did in the book. Possibly because the last scene we saw him in he was abducting someone who had no desire to hurt him, so he comes off as a sociopath.
The Kyle fight scene happens (yes, the scene changes are basically as abrupt as I’m writing them. I’m literally writing this while watching the movie) and somehow it’s even dumber than in the book. Despite that in the book it was 100% physically impossible. Here it’s just stupid. A probably 150-160lb man trying to toss a, in all seriousness no more than 90lb woman into a rushing river literally less than 3 feet away from where she was standing and she has nothing to grab onto except a wall. Not a pillar she can wrap her arms or legs around, a WALL. She manages to stop him but holding a WALL. And SOMEHOW he manages to basically throw HIMSELF into the water.
She saves him and the ‘tribunal’ is just a fight in the doctor’s office. It’s over in less than 2 minutes. Ian takes Wanderer out of the caves and confesses his feelings to her and of course she returns them completely right away. (Just now while re-reading this for editing/gifing realized that there was no ‘hey we’re back! WTF why is Wanderer free now?!’ scene… So Kyle’s hatred of her makes even less sense. Back to editing!) Wanderer has no feelings for Jared at all in this version (which makes sense because he’s a massive dick) and Melanie keeps trying to convince her that she doesn’t love Ian, she loves Jared instead, and stops them from kissing by just yelling at her a lot. Again, in the book this was justified, here it just comes off as cruel. While I understand Melanie not wanting to kiss someone other than Jared and she is stuck there, she doesn’t make a moral argument, she just threatens to hurt him and yells about how she should love Jared instead, which she also flipped out at her over in the kissing Jared scene!
We cut back to Seeker, and she’s clearly struggling to maintain control of her own host body. She still has Kyle’s gun, and is clearly plotting to go find them. Then it’s back to the caves.
Jamie is missing (scene starts and Wanderer wonders where Jamie is, no lead up at all. It’s incredibly clunky and very woodenly acted on everyone’s part so the entire scene feels weird and out of place, like they were doing a test run, going through a bullet point version of the scene to get the lighting right and just decided they didn’t have time to film the actual scene), then he shows up apropos of nothing and says he’s fine, he cut himself but Doc cleaned him up and sent him away. This is obviously setting up for the dead aliens scene, but in the books this made sense because Jared is just getting back from a second raid. Here, she’s already been to the hospital since they brought the aliens in. Where were they when she was in the hospital earlier? Why are they only just starting to experiment on them now, days or maybe even WEEKS later? Whatever, she sees the dead baby aliens and freaks out and banishes Melanie from her head and holes up.
In this version Ian gives her her space and leaves her be instead of disobeying her wishes and getting all up in her space. After a few days Jeb comes and gives her the speech and she explains that they’re stupid for trying to take them out that way, that it’ll never work and they’re horrible for trying. And like in the book she doesn’t really forgive them, just moves on because Jamie is more hurt. At no point in this movie does she actually seem to believe that the humans are in the right, she just kind of grows to like certain individuals. In the book Meyer at least TRIED to make it SOUND like Wanderer was starting to see their side of things, but scenes are going by so fast that there’s nothing at all. Whatever.
She panics and tries to get Melanie back because ‘I can’t do this without you’, which is, deal with sick Jamie, and does the whole ‘Ian, kiss me!’ thing. Only in this version he doesn’t protest at all, he just kisses her, which is a little worse actually. But moving on. Ian goes to get Jared and Jared gets Melanie back. None of these scenes last more than a minute. Not exaggerating. I am taking longer to write these paragraphs than the scenes are lasting. This is the first time a scene has taken longer to play out than it has for me to write about it, and that’s only because I basically skipped the whole thing since it’s pretty much the same as the book.
Jared kinda starts dry humping her though. That’s a little weird. This wakes her up and she smacks him and gets mad at Wanderer again.
Wanderer tells them they need alien medicine to save Jamie and the guys just trust her and take her to a hospital. She stabs herself with Jared’s knife and goes into the hospital. Melanie gives her encouragement, but everything goes the same as in the book, meaning there was no reason to be tense or panicked at all because no one is even the tiniest bit suspicious.
Wanderer finds some empty transport pods on her way out and grabs them. For no reason. None.
They try and make the healing Jamie scene really tense but they’re still playing calm violin music in the background as they have in EVERY scene Wanderer is in and we already saw how fast it worked on Wanderer so how is there any tension? Jamie wakes up, cracks a joke, dissolve cut to Wanderer shopping in a store.
They head back to the caves (seriously, the transition from Jamie waking up, to her shopping, to getting back to the caves was faster than I could type the paragraph before this one) and Seeker is there with Kyle’s gun and shoots someone who didn’t even have a single line of dialogue before getting shot in the shoulder herself.
Then, again, just as goddamn fast, Wanderer is talking to her in the cell and Seeker exposits her modus operandi and Wanderer then decides to use the cases she picked up at the hospital. Which makes her having picked them up at the hospital apparently an act of precognition.
Up to this point Melanie hasn’t said a single nice thing about Wanderer. Not. One. She has just yelled at her and spat hatred at her. But in the very next scene Wanderer is talking about killing herself and Melanie is all ‘NO! You can stay! I looove you!’ obviously paraphrased.
Apparently the guy who died was named Wes. I was right. Good to know.
No one likes her plan, but they go with it anyway. She teaches Doc how to remove the souls from the hosts. The answer is literally love. LITERALLY. SHE SAYS THAT. IT’S FUCKING LOVE.
And again the violin orchestra plays the sappy tune that is supposed to make us think they’re all beautiful and wonderful creatures. ARE the humans the villains in this movie? Maybe they are and I’m just misunderstanding.
Seeker’s host’s name is Lacy and she’s so happy she’s free that she cries, talking about how horrible it was to be trapped and screaming when no one could hear here, so I guess the aliens are the bad guys? Fucked if I know.
Jamie tries to talk Wanderer into keeping Melanie’s body, and that comes off as pretty horrible to me, personally. Melanie tells Wanderer he’s right, and that she needs to stay, Wanderer says she can’t. She is suddenly on the side of the humans and thinks that everything the aliens have done is horrible and I don’t really get why… There’s no motivation on Wanderer’s part at all. You can argue that she has one based on the character in the books, but she’s NOT the Wanderer from the books. To anyone that doesn’t know what’s going on, they’re just left to assume she thinks the people are right, except the whole movie makes the people look WRONG. It confirms EVERYTHING Wanderer argues to Melanie at the start of the movie as being accurate. With the exception of the Seeker, all of the aliens we see are 100% non-violent, even to their enemies, and the only person they infect during the course of the whole movie is Melanie who would have died if they hadn’t saved her. And they even say they’ll leave the remaining humans alone because they don’t WANT to fight them!
Anyway, there’s a tearful goodbye to Ian who in the books literally beats her for trying to leave him, but here he just cries and hopes she’ll be happy in her next life. Melanie calls Wanderer her sister. Melanie’s motivation for this change in attitude is as unclear as Wanderer’s… And I really don’t understand why Wanderer wants to die in this version at all. She tells Melanie she doesn’t want to go on without her because she loves her, but WHY?! Melanie has done nothing but yell at her and make her life miserable!
They put Wanderer in a new body that is somehow even tinier than Melanie’s, which makes no sense because I didn’t think that was physically possible since Melanie is already just a skeleton with skin (seriously, you can literally see the outline of her bones through her not even super tight clothing. I would be terrified to hug her for fear of snapping her in two). But at least she’s not in a child’s body like she is in the book. Her and Ian go on a date in the rain and then onto the stupid epilogue where they meet other humans/converted aliens. Jeb does a closing monologue about how different humans are from any of the other species the souls have taken over. End of movie. They play Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and I am sad because I like that song.
GOD THAT WAS AWFUL.
So glad it’s done. Never watch this movie. It’s not even fun bad. It’s just BAD. It’s badly written, it’s badly acted, the cg cave looks dumb, and it’s paced so poorly that it feels like a whole 2 hours passed without anything actually happening somehow. Much like the book in that sense… yet somehow actually dumber.
Anyway, Thursday I’m going to try and post an original piece if I can get my ideas to pan out and then next week I’ll post something for the first Twilight book. The Llama posted her first chapter by chapter review of it to show why it’s so boring it’s not worth breaking down that way though so go check that out too.
Till next time!