The Host, Stephenie Meyer’s latest attempt at harnessing the budding hormones of teen moviegoers, is upon us. You could predict much about the film: legions of swoony fangirls rallying behind the respective banners of Team Jared (Max Irons, son of Jeremy) and Team Ian (Jake Abel); lots of arid, deep-focus shots courtesy of antiseptic futurist director Andrew Niccol; Diane Kruger looking hot in a white pantsuit; William Hurt looking old; a sexy rain scene; puzzlement over the idea that anyone born after 1964 could be named Wanda; the talented Saoirse Ronan being far over-qualified for this tepid, listless young adult material.
What people who haven’t read Meyer's book might not have expected is how the movie ends with such craven set-up for a sequel. It’s a bit odd, because the 2008 novel doesn’t yet have a sequel itself. Not to mention that Meyer has been rather vague about whether she even is planning on producing a follow-up. So are her fans going to experience right now what fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones have long feared: that they may have to wait for a movie sequel until the author of its source material actually decides to put pen to page? Possibly.
Here’s what happens. Aliens named Souls travel across the galaxy, inhabiting the bodies of other species they encounter. They view their possession of host bodies as a kind of synthesis, a harmonious joining—while the races they’ve inhabited probably view it as a brutal conquest. Now they’ve targeted Earth…and have taken over pretty quickly, with only a modest human resistance left to oppose them. So, yeah, this is basically just Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the CW set.
MAJOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT
All the Souls give their human host bodies new periwinkle-blue eyes, for extra creepy effect. Most of the movie concerns the Soul named Wanderer and her acclimation to the new host body she’s taken. The personality of her host body, a girl from the resistance named Melanie Stryder, won’t be repressed. So Wanderer and Melanie end up sharing one body. Also, there’s no plumbing where they end up, so call it “Two Girls, One Body, No Cup.”
They make it to Melanie’s ramshackle family of resistance fighters out in what appears to be John Ford’s Monument Valley. And the next hour and a half becomes an inquiry into Melanie’s ontological status: Is she still in that body? We already know the answer is yes because we’ve had to endure her inane voiceover. The resistance fighters come to accept that Melanie is alive…but they also accept the individuality of Wanderer, who they’ve renamed Wanda. The Soul eventually decides she must give Melanie back her body, and to do that she must die.
OK, not really, because without her consent the resistance fighters just end up putting Wanda inside another human body that was going to die anyway. Wanda wakes up…and now she’s played by Emily Browning! This is with 10 minutes left in the movie. You don’t just put Emily Browning, a budding starlet in her own right, in your movie for the last 10 minutes and hope to leave it at that. They’ve gotta be planning on using her for a sequel, right? And then there’s the film’s official epilogue, set “A Few Months Later.” Wanda and Melanie are driving along with their indistinguishable hunks when they’re stopped by what we think is an alien patrol. But actually it’s a group of humans with one Soul among them…just like Wanda and Melanie’s group! Proving that there are others out there who believe Souls and humans can live in harmony, yet oppose the Soul invasion agenda. If they band together, they’ll be unstoppable. Stay tuned for the sequel, The Host Part 2: Penumbra (if it follows the Twilight saga’s fixation on using astronomical phenomena in its naming convention).
Except that there’s no sequel in the works as of right now at all! So what to make of this ending? We can’t call it a cliffhanger, because there is no suspense in Stephenie Meyer’s world. But it does seem like set-up. Here are some other burning questions we have too:
1. Does the fact that Souls only want to wear white suits explain why they never appear to possess the bodies of plus-size humans?
2. Do the Souls refuse to drive any car valued at less than $200,000?
3. Does voiceover work effectively in anything but a Terrence Malick movie these days?
4. Where did Jared and Ian obtain their seemingly endless supply of styling product? Are they raiding abandoned salons in their down time to stock up on all the hair gel they can get?
5. Is there no film that William Hurt and Frances Fisher can’t elevate?
6. Does the presence of periwinkle eyes indicate that a Soul took over the body of Geordi LaForge?
We'll answer Question #5: When that film is The Host.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Open Roads Films]