Story

The Host opens with a narrator describing how Earth is now at peace, with no hunger, war, crime or violence. This is because a race of aliens – the Souls – have invaded Earth and taken over humanity. The Souls are jellyfish-like parasites that implant themselves in the neck of human hosts and then take control of the hosts’ minds and bodies.

There are a few survivors who haven’t been taken over and have become resistance fighters against the Souls. They include Melanie Stryker (Saoirse Ronan) and her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), who are trying to get to the desert to find their eccentric Uncle Jeb (William Hurt). When a group of hosts trap Melanie in an abandoned building, she throws herself off a balcony to get them away from her brother. But Melanie survives the fall and is implanted with a Soul named Wanderer.

In other human hosts, consciousness dies when a Soul is implanted. But Melanie’s consciousness survives and she fights back, eventually gaining Wanderer’s sympathy and support. To avoid giving vital information about the resistance to the Souls, Melanie/Wanderer escapes into the desert, chased by a Soul named Seeker (Diane Kruger).

Themes

Alien invasion; extinction of the human race; identity; self-harm and suicide

Violence

This movie has some action violence, suicide and some blood and gore. For example:

  • Several hosts chase Melanie, and she hits them with a steel pipe. To evade capture, she crashes through the glass barrier of a balcony. She falls to the pavement below, where she lies unconscious.
  • In a flashback scene, a young man holds a knife to Melanie’s throat, threatening her and then forcibly kissing her on the mouth. Melanie head-butts the man in the face and runs away. The man chases her and knocks her to the ground.
  • In several scenes, hosts spray humans in the face with atomised spray. The spray makes the humans fall unconscious.
  • A group of men with axes and machetes approach Wanderer/Melanie. One of them lifts his machete to cut off her head. A second man points a shotgun at him, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t stop.
  • In several scenes, men and women slap Wanderer/Melanie across the face and punch her in the face.
  • Melanie’s father holds a gun to the side of his head, and there is the sound of a single gunshot. It’s clear that he has committed suicide.
  • Aliens chase two young men in a speeding truck. They deliberately crash the truck front first into a concrete barrier because they want to die rather than be caught.
  • A female host mistakenly shoots another host in the head. Blood splatters and pools beneath the second host’s head.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • The hosts look like normal humans but have scary eyes with silver irises and small black pupils.
  • Melanie lies unconscious on a surgical table, and a man uses a laser beam to make a cut on the back of her neck. A thin red line appears, and the cut opens slightly. An alien creature with small glowing tendrils is placed into the cut, which immediately heals, leaving a light glowing beneath the healed skin.
  • After walking through the desert for several days without water, Melanie lies unconscious on the sand. She is dehydrated and badly sunburned, with a blistered face and swollen lips.
  • Melanie’s brother, Jamie, accidentally cuts his leg with a sickle. The scene doesn’t show the accident, but it does show him with blood on his pants and on the blade of the sickle. Later he lies on a table sweating and in pain because the cut has become infected. There are no medicines to treat the wound and he might die. He becomes unconscious, and the wound looks swollen and infected. The wound is sprayed with an alien spray and heals instantly.
  • Two hosts lie dead on an operating table with bloody cuts on the backs of their necks and blood pooling beneath them. Two small alien creatures lie dead next to the pools of blood. Both hosts and Souls have been killed in a surgical experiment to remove the aliens from their human hosts.
  • Wanderer/Melanie uses a knife to cut her own arm and forehead, and blood flows freely from both wounds. Later the self-inflicted wounds are sprayed with an alien spray and heal instantly. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This movie has a few low-level sexual references. For example:

  • Melanie and a young man discuss having sex because they might be the last humans on earth. The young man implies that even if they are the last couple on earth, Melanie doesn’t have to have sex with him, Melanie says, ‘I want to’, ‘When you touch me I don’t want you to stop’ and ‘Sleep with me’.
  • Wanderer/Melanie is in a type of love triangle with two young men. Wanderer is attracted to one young man while Melanie is attracted to the other. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example, the hosts use a special spray to make humans unconscious. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Young women wear tight and revealing clothing.
  • Melanie swims naked in a cave lake, but we see only her bare shoulders.
  • Melanie and a young man lie in bed together kissing. Melanie is under the bedclothes and wearing a tank top. The young man lies naked on the bed, partly covered by the bedclothes.
  • In several short scenes, Melanie and Wanderer/Melanie passionately kiss two different men.
  • There is a running joke in several scenes where Melanie kisses a young man on the lips and then slaps his face. In one scene, she bites him on the lips. 

Product placement

Sports and luxury brand cars are shown throughout the movie. They include Jeep, Mercedes and Lotus. 

Coarse language

This movie has some infrequent low-level coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Host is a science fiction action adventure based on a book written by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer.

Although the novel was published as adult fiction, the movie – with its attractive young stars – is likely to attract tween and teenage fans of the Twilight series. But the movie isn’t recommended for children under 13 years, and parental guidance is recommended children aged 13-15 years. There are violent and scary scenes, themes that might disturb younger viewers and sexual references that make it more suitable for a mature audience. Melanie’s internal conflict with Wanderer, her alien parasite, also might be very confusing for younger viewers. And at 125 minutes, the movie is rather long.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • it’s important to fight for what is right and good, regardless of the odds and opposing forces
  • the power of love can overcome all obstacles.

You could talk with your children about whether the Earth really is a utopian place since the alien invasion. How is this claim contradicted by the way that the aliens carry out their invasion and maintain control?