Australian Council on Children and the Media

Host, The

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Not recommended under 13, Parental guidance 13-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes; Sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Host, The
  • a review of Host, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes, and sexual references.
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes.
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Host, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length 125 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Host opens with a narrator describing how Earth is now at peace, with no hunger, no war, no crime and no violence. Apparently this is because a race of extra-terrestrials referred to as “Souls”, have invaded Earth and taken over humanity. The Souls, a jellyfish like parasite, are implanted into the neck of their human host and then take control of their host’s mind and body.

Small pockets of survivors have not been taken over and have become resistance fighters against the Souls. Two such survivors are a young woman named Melanie Stryker (Saoirse Ronan) and her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury),who are attempting to make their way 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 in an attempt to divert them away from her younger brother. But Melanie survives the fall and is implanted with a Soul named Wanderer.

Although in other human hosts consciousness dies when the Soul is implanted, Melanie’s consciousness survives and over time Melanie fights back, eventually gaining Wanderer’s sympathy and support. In an attempt to avoid giving vital information about the resistance to the Souls, Melanie/Wanderer escapes into the desert with a Host named Seeker (Diane Kruger) in hot pursuit.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains some action violence, suicide, and some blood and gore. Examples include:

  • Melanie is chased by several Hosts and hits them with a steel pipe. To evade being captured she crashes through the glass barrier of a balcony, falling to the pavement below where she lies unconscious.
  • In a flashback scene, we see a young man hold 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 but the man chases her and knocks her to the ground.
  • In several scenes Hosts spray humans in the face with atomised spray causing them to fall unconscious.
  • A group of men wielding axes and machetes approach Wanderer/Melanie and one of them raises his machete in an attempt 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 Wanderer/Melanie is slapped across the face and punched in the face by men and women.
  • Melanie’s father holds a gun to the side of his head and we hear the sound of a single gunshot. It is clear that Melanie’s father committed suicide.
  • Two young men in a speeding truck being chased by aliens deliberately crash the truck front first into a concrete barrier in order to die rather than being caught.
  • A female Host mistakenly shoots another Host in the head; we see some blood splattering and see a pool of blood beneath her head.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • 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; we see a thin red line 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, dehydrated and badly sunburnt with a blistered face and swollen lips.
  • A young boy, Jamie, accidentally cuts his leg with a sickle; we do not actually see him cut his leg but see blood on his pants and on the blade of the sickle. Later still we see the boy lying on a table sweating and in pain as the cut has become infected, and we hear that there are no medicines to treat the wound and that he may die. Later we see him unconscious and the wound appearing 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. We hear that both Hosts and Souls were killed in a surgical experiment designed remove the aliens from their human hosts.  
  • Wanderer/Melanie uses a knife to cut her own arm and forehead and we see blood freely flowing from both wounds. Later the self- inflicted wounds are sprayed with an alien spray and heal instantly. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

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

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Sports and luxury brand vehicles are depicted throughout the film including Jeep, Mercedes and Lotus.

Sexual references

The film contains a few low-level sexual references. Examples include:

  • Melanie and a young man discuss having sex because they may 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, and Melanie responds with “I want to”; “When you touch me I don’t want you to stop”; “Sleep with me”.
  • During the film Wanderer/Melanie is engaged in a type of love triangle with two young men with Wanderer being attracted to one young man while Melanie is attracted to another.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • 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 bed covers and wearing a tank top while the young man is depicted lying naked on a bed, his nudity partially covered by the bedclothes.
  • In several short scenes we see Melanie and Wanderer/Melanie passionately kissing two different men.
  • In several scenes (as a running joke) when Melanie kisses a young man on the lips she then slaps his face and in one scene she bites him on the lips.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The Hosts use an atomised spray to render humans unconscious.

Coarse language

The film contains some infrequent low-level coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • “She’s so full of it”; “parasite”; “oh my god”; “sorry arse”; “what the hell”.    

In a nutshell

The Host is a science fiction action adventure based on a book written by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. Although the novel was intended as adult fiction the film, with its attractive young stars, is likely to attract tween- and teenage fans of the Twilight series. The film is not recommended for under 13s with parental guidance recommended for 13 to 15 year olds. There are violent and scary scenes, themes which may disturb younger viewers and sexual references which make it more suitable for a mature audience. In addition, Melanie’s internal conflict with Wanderer, her alien parasite, may be very confusing for younger viewers and, at 125 minutes, the film is rather long.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • To fight for what is right and good, regardless of the odds and opposing forces.
  • That the power of love can overcome all obstacles.

Parents may wish to discuss how the initial claims that the Earth is a utopian place, due to being occupied by an alien race that opposes all of humanity’s negative traits, is contradicted by the way in which that alien race is carrying out its invasion and maintaining control.

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