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
The plot, in short: Three backpackers, two Americans and one Icelander, does Europe by train with two major goals: To get high and nail as many women as possible... In Amsterdam they accidentally learn of a hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia where sex-mad women thirst for men in general, and American men i particular. They of course decide to go there and at first it seems the rumors were true. But they soon learn that the hostel is nothing more than a front for a bizarre club, where people can pay a huge fee to get to perform unspeakable acts...
My 2 cents: The director and writer Eli Roths biggest accomplishment before Hostel is Cabin Fever (2002) - weather or not that is something good is a matter of personal judgment. That he got two Evil Dead'ers (Scott Spiegel and FX-genius Gregory Nicotero) interested in his script is not at all surprising. But how he got Quentin Tarantino to executive produce (and thereby act as "posterboy" for his flick) is, to me, a total and utter mystery.
Hostel has potential, I'm not going to take that away from it. The thought that a place exists where rich people pay money to torture and kill other people is interesting. And a story about a kidnapped person who finds himself locked in that very place, waiting for his assassin, should make for a great film! The film is wonderfully lit, specifically in the torture chamber-scenes. And the set-dressing in those scenes are marvelous. It really feels like Roth found these places - and just shot them as the were. But the lighting, set-dressing and potentially-rich story, unfortunately, ends the positive things I have to say about Hostel.
It is frustrating to see a story that could have been so exciting and horrific get so utterly fumbled up! The movie is an hour and a half long, and takes a whopping 50 minutes to get to the place that is supposed to be the scene of terror and creepiness. The nearly hour-long "intro" is spent observing the backpackers while they party, get high and watch naked ladies in Amsterdams Red Light-district. When the story finally starts to focus on whatever is wrong with the Slovakian hostel it points everything out to such an extensive degree that it feels like Roth wants to put a stupid-hat on every member in the audience. I sat, in vain, and waited for him to take the lid off, go "ta-daa!" and show me something intelligent that I had missed. But it never happens and when the lid, towards the end, slowly slides off on its own accord it turns out that the ones you suspected were bad guys were in fact...bad guys. The ones you suspected were dead...were dead. And the entire movie ends the way you suspected it would all along.
Jay Hernandez (Paxton) and Derek Richardson (Josh) doesn't do to shabby in the two leads. But Roth has stayed true to Hollywood formula and chosen picturesque before personality, and the bigger part has unfortunately been given to Hernandez - instead of Richardson who I thought were more likable, and more interesting to watch.
Spanish director Koldo Serra made El tren de la bruja in 2003. A short-film about a man who agrees to partake in an experiment and suddenly finds himself strapped to a chair in a dark room. He hears metal objects being handled and someone pacing back and forth in the room. When the light is turned on it dawns on him that he will probably be tortured to death. Serras short-film is fifteen minutes long. It was filmed in two days and is scary as hell! Hostel is both longer and has, as it first seems, more story to build on. But it still wants to base the horror in exactly the same sort of scenes as Serras short - and fails miserably! Hostel is, probably, made specifically for an American teen-audience, where drugs and naked women represent half of the movies pull. Blood and bodyparts make up the other half. If you watch this and expect anything more sophisticated than some blood and naked breasts you'll be disappointed.
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