12. Gwoemul (The Host)
Sometimes, monsters come about because of environmental conditions beyond humanity’s control. We’re simply helpless in the face of things like the graboids or the Predator.
However, other horror films can’t help but comment on the hubris and arrogance that can lead to out-of-control beasts wreaking havoc upon our society. There’s Godzilla, the product of a short-sighted nuclear age. The judas bugs from Mimic were created with good intentions, but a basic misunderstanding of biology and evolution led to giant, murderous insects beneath Manhattan. Even Pinhead only shows up when someone is arrogant enough to summon him and his fellow demons.
The Host, a 2006 film from South Korea, is one of the latest monster tales to draw from this tradition. At the beginning of the film, US military pathologist stationed there tells his Korean assistant to dump a considerable amount of formaldehyde down the drain. Said drain, however, leads to the nearby Han River, a major waterway near the country’s capital of Seoul.
While this leads to serious environmental damage, the formaldehyde incident creates a far worse threat than a contaminated river. Only a few years later, a giant, mutated monster emerges from the river and decimates a small crowd gathered there. It causes mass panic and a public health crisis, as officials claim that the creature may be carrying a contagious virus.
This weird, amphibious creature, also called “Gwoemul”, would be frightening enough if it simply pulled itself out of the river and stood there. Of course, that’s not all. Gwoemul, you see, is also highly aggressive and exceedingly hungry. Two of the movie’s protagonists are captured by the monster and manage to survive by hiding in its sewer lair, which is eventually filled with human bones. Even worse, the movie’s creators reportedly based its design off real mutated fish found in the Han River.