Monday, January 09, 2006


Title: Hostel (2006)
Dir: Eli Roth
Rating: *** and a 1/2 out of 5 stars

Yeah, this review was pretty delayed. Sorry. I was hoping to see the film a second time so I could write a better review, but since that never happened, here's what I got....

For the most part, I liked it. I don't know why everyone raised a fuss over it being graphic, it was far less gory than I expected. About 15% of the entire movie was torture-based, the rest was all sex and stupid Americans. Granted, that stuff is important to build up the story, but it should have been cut down a bit. More gore, Eli, more gore! We can handle it! Then again, maybe I should be yelling at the MPAA for that.

I had fun watching it, so I'm trying to not let my high expectations drag down my opinion. I believe the movie is a more mature effort by Eli Roth, but in some ways it is still less mature than Cabin Fever (a ridiculously underrated movie). I think I still prefer Fever, but that's probably due to the subject matter (zombie-esque survival films = huzzah!).

Some scenes really stood out as original (I won't elaborate b/c I don't want to spoil them for anyone). Despite everyone bitching over the gore, Roth really excels at scaring the audience with what he doesn't show. I love love love that.

I didn't find anything exploitative or cheap about the torture scenes or the sex scenes. I freakin hate horror movies that employ shock value for the sake of shock value (ie, The Devil's Rejects = overblown shit). Instead, Hostel is a morality tale about ignorant Americans who are morally-depraved (on a socially "acceptable" level), who get a taste of just what kind of sick depravity exists beyond their worst nightmares. They use women and act like assholes for "kicks" but in a dark part of Bratislava, people just like them find their own "kicks" in the form of torture and murder. Deny it if you want, but there is more to this story than a bunch of teenagers getting tortured for no good reason.

Hostel has a good, thought-provoking message behind all the boobs and blood. Roth has truly dug himself a niche among "people-will-do-anything-to-survive" horror movies. Most mainstream American film-goers cannot appreciate a film like this. Miike fans should like it since it takes on that fucked up Japanese style, plus Miike himself makes a cameo.

I really believe Roth is building up to something better all the time - he is still young and only made two feature films. He has enough potential alone to rejuvenate my faith in mainstream horror, which is a pretty amazing feat. I can't wait to see what he does next.


Alex said...

Finally saw it. (Though I'll probably never see it if you reply to this comment since it's so far down). I've gotta say, I thought Cabin Fever was awesome, but I thought Hostel was just brilliant. I mean, I do love the campiness of Cabin Fever, but Hostel had this amazing visual sensibility to it (which of course may well be entirely based on the genres the two movies are sending up). So regardless of which one is better, I'm now convinced Roth was not a one hit wonder (even if the movie wasn't a hit). I eagerly await his foray into his next genre.

Alex said...

Of course, it could be just because I've always been quite fond of the plot device a la Alien/Psycho where one person is set up as the main character only to be killed off a third of the way into the movie that I like it.

Alex said...

I should also mention, that if Raimi continues to insist on remaking Evil Dead, Roth would be my only choice for director.

Heather said...

haha wow Alex, I never expected you to like Roth so much, I figured you'd end up hating the guy. I'm glad though, he's got real potential.

I also like how they set up the person as a main character (I genuinely liked that guy!) and BAM DEAD, then we're left with the asshole character lol. That was great.

Alex said...

Yeah and what was especially great about the way he did it was how long he took to even reveal which of them it was in the "dungeon" since both of them had passed out in the previous scene and it could have been either one. You just sit there going "WHO IS IT DAMN IT?!?!?"

But why would you have thought I wouldn't like Roth?

Alex said...

Plus I lost count of the number of other things besdies the hero that he set up and then totally did a 180 on. Like "oh this is the guy that's going to help them escape cause he likes the guy and saved him from the little kids" ERRRR wrong. And then of course "oh now the guy is going to feel bad and let him go since he is pleading in German" Shit like that just kept happening. Plus, somehow knowing what was going to happen actually made the first half of the movie even tenser somehow. Man, I'm just going on and on. I think I need to go get the DVD.