6.09.2009

Hostel (2005): Idiot’s Guide to Dying in Eastern Europe


Who knew I would actually like it? Maybe I shouldn't listen to non-genre filmgoers anymore.

It’s amazing that I have never seen Hostel until now. There are three main reasons I hadn’t seen this film. 1) Whenever I see “Quentin Tarantino Presents” before a trailer, it usually pisses me off. 2) Everything I’d heard about it left me with no interest to pursue it (i.e. that its torture mixed with porn, which subsequently became known as torture-porn). 3) Eli Roth bugged me in his interviews. Well as serendipity would have it, I received Hostel on Blu-Ray as a birthday gift. It took about a month for me to actually get around to watching and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.


Meet our cast of assholes.

The first act of the film was justifying my preexisting qualms. Douchebags running around Europe in search of hot, sleazy women (or any girl that will take them to bed), poorly-executed jokes that fell flat, and the general unlikeability of these characters were not keeping me interested. 30 minutes into the movie and what do we have? A Icelandic man who cheats on his wife, a preppy wanna-be lawyer that will stop at nothing to get laid, and a whiny guy who misses his ex-girlfriend and isn’t man enough to do anything about it. Eventually, these testosterone-driven boneheads end up at the hostel of their dreams.

Dude, my grandma has that same gardening tool.

That is until they are kidnapped, thrown into a dark room, tied to a chair, and well…you know the rest. Once the torture begins, the film gets its legs. Typically during this type of horror film (survival or torture), I am usually happier during the first part of the film if the characters are well-drawn and I get anxious watching the terror unfold in the second half. The opposite occurs with Hostel, which may or may not be a bad thing. It’s not like I necessarily wanted to see these guys get mutilated, but Roth is just so much better at relaying dark humor and gritty debasement than he is at creating interesting protagonists to stroll around with. Where the film succeeds is the fabrication of bizarre antagonists—real human beings behind the masks of these masochistic murderers.

Ha ha...That's all I got.


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*SPOILERS*


I also appreciated the method in which the cast is killed off. We don’t even see the Icelander murdered, which is kind of unexpected. Instead, the dismal sight of his severed head lets us imagine what occurs inside the dismal chambers. The next death surprised me. The whiny boy was next; we don’t even get a long chase sequence. This stock character is usually our Final Boy, so it was refreshing to see the sex-crazed brat take charge as the lead. This is especially true because he is a better actor, more interesting to watch, and frankly he is better looking.

The gore was not what I expected. After hearing so much about the movie’s brutality, I was surprised at how little gore was actually on screen. Roth employs the more classical technique of letting us envision the horror for ourselves through implied sounds and camera angles. But yes, occasionally we do get to see the KNB EFX at their best with some great gags involving ankles, eyeballs, and chest cavities.

The ending was also greatly appreciated. In fact, it is what finally convinced me that I really did like Hostel because I think I may have still been on the fence about it. Our pretty boy takes his revenge in a public bathroom—how fantastic. It’s brutal and epic. Often times, horror characters will choose to keep running and we end the movie, hoping that they will call the police and the bad guys will be caught. Other times, the person does kill them but it’s usually a result of self-defense in the heat of a climactic battle. Here we are treated to the unbridled anger of a victim that’s not afraid to do something about it, even though he had the opportunity to just walk away. For the record, I did watch the alternate ending and it’s not nearly as good. He takes the man’s little girl away instead of killing him.

*END SPOILERS*
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Strike a pose.

Hostel was and wasn’t what I expected. It was a very masculine, crude film for the testosterone junkie. It wasn’t a shabby, overly explicit torture flick. I can’t say that I’m a fan of Roth quite yet, but I will be looking forward to seeing the sequel, especially since it is supposedly from a more female perspective.

7 comments:

  1. HEY I like the boobs in the start! The torture is pretty cool too, but the boobs were way better :D Eli Roth's annoying douchy humor comes through way too much in his movies so i usually stay away from em.

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  2. This is so unjustly called Gore Porn, Roth did an amazing job on the film, and there are more scenes that are implied than those that are shown. I didnt enjoy the sequel nearly as much, the girls didnt sell the film for me at all and the males of the first one were much more likeable and relateable. Glad you liked this one B-Nizzle!

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  3. My god, I despise this film.

    It was a softcore straight porn (which I have no desire to see) full of obnoxious brats doubling as "characters" and minor, shitty gore scenes we've seen in fifty other movies.

    The sequel meanwhile, is a brilliant film - it's what I expected "Hostel" to be. Seriously, watch Hostel 2, it's much better.

    Hostel 2 has adorable characters, significant scenes of gore and an ending to die for. Watch it!

    - Zac

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  4. While I enjoyed the helplessly masculine Hostel, I agree with Zac on Hostel II. I like the chemistry between the girls, despite the fact that they are essentially copies of the three guys. Roth is having a great time with these movies and so am I!

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  5. Nova, I didnt think it was that back. It was def offended me intelligence once in a while, but what do you expect Roth is a complete dbag lol. I guess i sit somewhere between Nova's comment and Carls. I really need to see the second Hostel but gonna wait till it drops or goes on sale on bluray.

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  6. I agree with the above posters. If you made it through this one, you might as well check out the sequel. There were some cool deaths and overall I liked it.

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  7. I enjoyed Hostel (as well as Cabin Fever). At the time, every genre picture out there was a toothles PG-13 crapfest (usually from Ghosthouse). When Hostel came out, we got a hard-R picture that not only had teeth, but balls! A pretty good flick, in my opinion!

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