When Kimberly has a violent premonition of a highway pileup she blocks the freeway, keeping a few others meant to die, safe...Or are they? The survivors mysteriously start dying and it's up to Kimberly to stop it before she's next.
3 backpackers are in Amsterdam where they get locked out of their youth hostel. They are invited into a man's house where he tells them of a hostel somewhere in eastern Europe where the women are all incredibly hot and have a taste for American men. When they get there, everything is too good to be true - the hostel is "to die for" Written by
Deeply unpleasant on one level; thrilling on another it works for what it sets out to do but is a very basic and cynical affair that will put many off
Hostel was one of those films described as "torture porn" and, with my low tolerance for gore, I decided to give it a miss at the cinemas and dismiss it if anyone brought it up. However as it came on TV a month or so ago I decided that maybe I was being unfair by not giving it a try. It did sit on my HDD for a month though as somehow I never was in the mood until I forced myself to watch it. It does what you expect it to do and there should be no surprise that it is very gory throughout. What surprised me was how gripped I was by it as I squirmed in my seat and had the emotional "flight" response while sitting there. In that sense the film works because for all but the most hardened viewer it will have you feeling ill and get your heart beating. However while it did achieve this, it did it by simply going direct for being as sadistic and graphic as it possibly could.
In a way there is a "build-up" to the main gory bits but this is less of a decision so much as a necessary evil of having any sort of story. The first thirty minute or so are essentially the guys getting honey-trapped into this Eastern-European world of heartless torture and then from there we have gore for varying reasons (and here the makers give us nudity to prevent the male target audience getting bored). You never really care about the characters or the story because the tension is not about "what is happening next" as it is about the act you are watching. It is a cynical horror movie in this way as it has a very simple atmosphere and a very simple target or gore. While you are watching it the sheer cruel horror of it might stop you thinking but ultimately it is a soulless affair that reminds me of the viral "2 girls 1 cup" video. You see both are the type of thing you want to watch but also don't want to see, both also are entirely about seeing horrible things from the remote safety of your home and of course both generally get a "hands over eyes, open-mouth but yet unable to look away" response from viewers. This is all Hostel is going for and this is why I have real reservations recommending it because as a "film" it is pretty poor.
Those that love gore will love it though because in this area it excels. The effects are horrifically realistic and are delivered in clear, cruel shots. The actors do a great job of convincing in their pain, horror and fear and this is part of the gore voyeur aspect of the film. As characters though they are poor and can do nothing with the script other than be young and geeky/sexy/beefy/stoned* (delete as appropriate). Hoffman's portrayal of power is the only exception because, while a bit whacked out, he perfectly captures the sheer indifference to live that real evil has. Roth's direction doesn't show much in the way of subtlety but he knows what his audience want and how to give it to them. The lack of anything beyond this in his delivery or script can be easily seen in the way that the film doesn't even try to do something with the fact that we are getting entertainment from watching people torture/kill others for their entertainment. Normally in this sort of thing there would at least be some reference to this conflict but here Roth is part of his audience and sees nothing wrong at all with what he is doing which is a problem for me, not that he needs to be "ashamed" but just that a film should not just be a load of filmed gore with no heart or reason to care.
Hostel is a gory horror movie that is entirely about being repulsed and thrilled by the graphic and sadistic acts portrayed with excellent special effects. Those looking for this will be pleased with it but the majority will be turned off. For some it will simply be too gory to watch and they will get no pleasure from witnessing hell on earth I totally understand where they are coming from. However the majority of viewers will not be those that struggle with gore but just object to the cynical way that it is put on the screen without any real attempt at using it as part of the film or story no, here the gore is the all and there is nothing else to watch it for. This factor alone makes me stronger in my decision to ignore this genre for what it is because being good at what you do doesn't mean that it is right for you to do it in the first place.
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