Hostel (2005)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-03-11 11:15

Written and directed by: Eli Roth
Produced by: Chris Briggs, Mike Fleiss and Eli Roth

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“I've been all over the world. You know, I've been everywhere and the bottom line is; Pussy is pussy. You know, every strip club, every whorehouse, every... it's all the same shit. You know, I just fucked a girl two days ago and I don't even remember the color of her tits. But this... this is something you never forget, right?”

"I have the smoothest balls in Iceland!"

The grand old days of horror are long behind us and it’s hard to be impressed by the horror of today. Sure, there were gems early in the new millennium, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was great and Freddy vs. Jason was even better (not because of the plot or acting, though) and Land of the Dead didn’t come close to its predecessors, but was a good watch. I couldn’t complain too much about the early part of this decade, especially when you get sequels to long dead flicks like Blood Feast and Bride of Re-Animator. Then, Saw arrived on the scene and the revivals of these franchises (besides remakes) seemed to die off and every movie tried to imitate the master. The problem is although Saw is a very good film, most of the copycats are not. Hostel is probably the best Saw-like film I’ve seen so far, but only comes close to it in parts.

Oli, Josh and Paxton (Eythor Gudjonsson, Derek Richardson and Jay Hernandez) are on vacation, backpacking their way through Europe, visiting every museum in site. Well, actually they are just trying to pick up loose women and Oli and Paxton are doing a good job of it. Josh is a bit more reserved though, and is still dealing with issues from a past relationship. Josh and Paxton had met up with Oli, who is from Iceland, somewhere along their little trek and they’ve been partying and getting high the whole way. One night they arrive at their hostel when it’d already been locked up for the night and create a drunken scene trying to get in. As the cops arrive, they are called up into a man’s room whom they do not know, named Alexei, who tells them grand tales of hot chicks and good times to be had in the little country of Slovakia.

It doesn’t take much to convince these party animals that Slovakia is definitely the place to be. They pack up their bags and head to the train station to make the trip and meet up with an odd man along the way. He puts his hand on Josh’s lap and Josh freaks out, so the man takes off in a hurry. This little incident is put into the back of their minds and they enter the lavish nightlife Bratislava has to offer and quickly find a couple hot foreign women that keep them busy (use your imagination). However, it’s not the last time they’d see the touchy feely man on the train as they meet up with him in Slovakia and they could never guess the hells that he would put them through – or why it’s being done to them. Turns out there’s a murder for profit business being run in a dingy old warehouse where any average Joe can slice a neck anonymously for the thrill, so long as they have the cash.

The term “torture porn” was thrust upon movies like Hostel, and I think that term in this case is exaggerated. Compared to a lot of movies, it doesn’t top them in gore (although believe me – it is gory), it’s not as menacing and quite frankly, there’s not much torture. I was expecting some sort of Asian torture flick here and it wasn’t that bad. It lacks the mind-fuck that Saw brought to the table that made everything a lot more extreme than it really was. This is why you should never go into watching movies with a predetermined hype in mind, and I let myself down this time and jumped in. Fingers are cut off, heads are blasted with pistols, bodies are chopped up and the chainsaw gets a bloody workout. As I said before, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to sink your teeth into, it’s just not as extreme as what I’d heard and certainly not what I expected “torture porn” to consist of.

The best parts of the film are of the boys are out on the town having a good time, they’re generally quite funny and you really take a half assed liking to them, especially Oli, “The King of the Swing!” If this were a slasher movie in the vain of Slumber Party Massacre, it’d have been one of the best of its kind. With that said, the film goes from pretty much a comedy with a few things happening (like the guy on the train) that wouldn’t normally go on in such movies to a serious horror film. I have never really come across a flick yet that could do this effectively. The first two victims die while you’re mentally still in the state of a comedy and you don’t really relish those scenes, not to mention only one thing that’s not predictable happens in them. They’re not really gory and there are a few cringes, but it’s not Saw-type panic material where you’re on the edge of the seat hoping they get away, wondering if they can get away.

However, this changes towards the end and it picks up in a big way. Suspense truly enters the movie and you’re routing for the main character to get out of there alive. The chase scenes are well done and the atmosphere of the dank and dirty old factory is a real plus. The ending is the best part of the film and although there’s no big twist or anything like that, Hostel goes into I Spit on Your Grave mode and revenge is the new motive. The kill here is the best in the entire film because it takes place in a room that is basically completely white, and blood looks so good on white walls. There are some nice touches along the way, especially a scene in which one character gets his fingers cut off with a chainsaw and he takes time to pick them up. The acting is good and I really liked how the guys being tortured or sought after vomited on themselves and cried in fright. It made it feel a lot more realistic than a lot of movies where the victims merely scream.

In the end, Hostel gives fans a good viewing experience, even if it is a little uneven. Without a doubt, it is miles ahead of Roth’s earlier film, Cabin Fever. Another plus of the film is there are tons and tons of hot foreign chicks naked and boobies are bouncing all over the place with a couple hard to see full frontals. I understand that though, the bush shot isn’t exactly as easy to capture as it was in the seventies and eighties, for obvious reasons. The DVD looks great and has a whopping four commentary tracks accompanied by a featurette. The 5.1 track is loud without too many effects and my sub rumbled through my chest on many occasions. The ending makes up for everything the film doesn’t accomplish in the middle and it’s a downright funny comedy at the beginning. It doesn’t gel perfectly, but this is one hostel you’re going to want to stay at. It even has a room numbered 237 to boot. Buy it!

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