Say what you will about the Twilight saga, there were actually some decent moments in it. Sure, it was soap opera-ish, but the action was often pretty solid, and who can find fault with sweeping vistas of the Pacific Northwest? Mmmm, pine trees. Heck, Totalfilm even put Twilight on its recent “30 Movies That Aren’t As Bad As You Remember” list.

This weekend Twilight author Stephenie Meyer is back with director Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of her 2008 novel The Host, and, frankly, there’s not a single “decent moment” to be found. It’s just… bad. Empirically bad. So awful that you’ll begin to look at Twilight as a stunning artistic endeavor.

It all starts with The Host‘s setup, which has more holes than a salt shaker. Glo-worm aliens have taken over the Earth and now inhabit every human, except for a few rebel holdouts. When the aliens finally nab rebel Melinda (Saoirse Ronan), it turns out that she (apparently) is the only human in the world with the power and conviction to fight the infestation (which, by the way, manifests itself only with glowy eyes).

Melinda fights so hard that she forces (with the world’s most grating interior monologue) her infested-with-an-alien body (known as Wanderer) to go find her still-human brother (Chandler Canterbury) and her old boyfriend Jared (Max Irons), who are at a hidden rebel base in New Mexico.

There she’s met with clenched fists and the business end of a couple shotguns, particularly from Jared, who’s none to pleased that his old squeeze, even though she looks the same (save for the glowy eyes), is now infected. That’s okay, though, another of the rebels is plenty eager to hit on her… which leaves interior/Melinda and exterior/Wanderer tussling over which boy they like best.

All the while, the aliens, led by The Seeker (Diane Kruger), are on the hunt for Wanderer/Melinda and the rest of the rebels. But not really. Short of a helicopter and a couple shiny cars, the search party isn’t terribly robust.

If I were to write this review in the style of New York Times food critic Pete Wells’ scathing review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, I could go on all day. The questions will come at you rapid-fire throughout the entire movie: Why does Melinda’s inner monologue sound like the world’s most annoying fifth-grader? Why is an entire scene devoted to a rebel deciding “Wanderer” is too long a name and that she should be just “Wanda” instead? Why does a movie with two “romance” subplots feel so utterly devoid of emotion or passion? And why can’t an entire planet full of super high-tech aliens get their act together to find a group of rebels who drive around in very big and very conspicuous trucks?

Why would any actor (or crew) willingly sign up to be a part of this infuriatingly idiotic disaster?

And, worst of all, why would anyone see this?


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rinse my mouth out with some Twilight.

1/5 stars