sun 25/10/2020

The Host review - implausible suspense thriller | reviews, news & interviews

The Host review - implausible suspense thriller

The Host review - implausible suspense thriller

Hitchcockian it is not

Derek Jacobi bookends the film with brief appearances as a psychologist

A camel is a horse designed by committee, they say; perhaps that explains why The Host, with several writing credits – adapted by Zachary Weckstein from a story by Laurence Lamers, screenplay by Finola Geraghty, Brendan Bishop and Lamers – doesn't really know what it is.

A camel is a horse designed by committee, they say; perhaps that explains why The Host, with several writing credits – adapted by Zachary Weckstein from a story by Laurence Lamers, screenplay by Finola Geraghty, Brendan Bishop and Lamers – doesn't really know what it is. Part suspense thriller, part crime caper, but mostly a Hitchcock rip-off (although I'm sure the creators would call it “homage”).

It starts so promisingly, with Saul Bass-esque opening titles, but then we get into tale that becomes bogged down with trivial details. After being dumped by the married colleague with whom he has been having an affair, gambler and drinker Robert (an underwhelming Mike Beckingham) steals £50,000 from the private bank where he works (has he never heard of CCTV?) and then loses it all at an illegal club.

The club's owner, Mr Lao (Togo Igawa) makes Robert an offer he can't refuse: he'll cancel his debt and pay him handsomely if he runs an errand to Amsterdam, no questions asked.

There Robert meets the mysterious Vera (Maryam Hassouni, pictured right, so much better then the material she has to work with), who has a rather interesting hobby room in her basement. Back in London, Robert's brother, Steve (Dougie Poynter, better known for his singing career with McFly for good reason) determines to find his now missing brother, and off he goes to Amsterdam too.

Remind you of anything? Psycho popped into my mind, as well as Hostel in one of The Host's plot points. And that's fine if those movies were the starting point for something new, or playful, or inventive, but The Host, ploddingly directed by Andy Newbury, is none of those things.

As Steve becomes embroiled in a complicated and implausible tale involving international crime fighters, Triads, high-level Dutch society, gory endings and a risible back story of parental loss, I did wonder if there was a wishlist of psycho-drama tropes the writers wanted to embrace. The only can they didn't hit, at least, was that neither of the brothers and Mr Lao's enforcer Jun Hui (Suan-Li Ong), sent to trail Robert in Amsterdam to make sure the drop goes ahead, fall into lustful embrace.

The Host is neither well written or well acted, and takes several jarring switches of gear and direction which confuse the viewer rather than add to the suspense, and the biggest mystery is the fact that it's bookended by brief appearances by Derek Jacobi as a psychologist. But at least the location shots of south London and Amsterdam are fab.

  • The Host is available download  on all platforms from 17 April

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