In my opinion Hostel was great, but I also really enjoyed Cabin Fever. I wouldn't vote Hostel as a horror in the traditional sense, but the same elements that made Cabin Fever good are what make Hostel good as well. The things I am referring to are the "gross out" factor and the horror in realizing "this could happen in real life."
Hostel wasn't scary. It had some pretty gruesome scenes, but I almost expected more. There was heavy drug use, sex and lots of nudity. If I rented a movie LIKE Hostel, I probably wouldn't think it was very good or recommend it to anyone. But the movies isn't LIKE Hostel, it IS Hostel.
A quick summary: Two friends travel to Europe at some point, I think the summer before their senior year in college. They meet a European guy (Ole) and travel as a trio. Their main goal: getting drunk, high and laid. After traveling all over Europe they realize that everywhere is overrun with Americans (like themselves) and they want to get somewhere a little more secluded, with hotter girls and less tourists. After a random encounter with a guy in Amsterdam, they are on their way to a small town in a Slavic nation (on his advice, of course). Once they arrive they meet the hottest girls on their entire trip and have lots of sex and drink lots. Ole vanishes and they try to look for him. They decide to wait a little while, when the "nice guy" of the duo also goes missing (both people missing include scenes of torture/death and a not so clear but easy to figure out message that is the main point of the movie). Finally the cocky guy demands to the people they have met to be taken to his friend, and he is taken to a gain warehouse where the torture/death takes place. As it turns out, he is next. I won't explain more, as it would ruin the ending (which I found surprising).
Most people look at Cabin Fever (and I think eventually Hostel will be looked at the same way) as a horrible teen horror movie; sadly these people miss the point. The overarching factors that turn Hostel from a mediocre, gruesome, B horror flick into a cinematic... well not masterpiece, but something really good... is the fact that A) this could really happen, and for all I know does happen and nobody knows about it (the actual horror element) B) Eli Roth KNOWS that's (not good) what the movie seems like, and makes his "horror" a bit... lighthearted... which gives it a little something extra C) Roth makes so many homages to old horror movies, you know he appreciates the genre and lastly D) He (Roth) never wanted to make crappy horror flicks, so he's taken a general idea and made it something all his own.
If you absolutely HATED Cabin Fever, you probably won't like Hostel. If you go into the movie expecting to have your pants scared off... you're out of luck. If you expect this to be something it's not (so far what the general public seems to have expected of this flick) then you will be disappointed. If you're ready to see something with a good story that utilizes a great idea, some pretty gruesome and interesting torture/killing scenes and enjoy yourself for 95 minutes OR if you "got" Cabin Fever and "get" Eli Roth - this movie was made just for you, and you won't be disappointed.
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