A Review by Tyler Foster
I've noticed recently that there seems to be some sort of unspoken animosity towards the horror genre. No doubt this has increased in the past 25 years as the output from Hollywood has declined into slasher flicks, a move towards the PG-13 rating and the slew of Asian horror remakes and just remakes in general. But whenever a horror film comes out that breaks the trend, I hear people murmuring about how they've crossed the line. Sure, I wondered the same thing in my Wolf Creek review, but whether they've done it and whether or not they should be allowed to are two entirely different issues. People will find Hostel a horrible carnival of brutal violence, gore and misogyny, but it's also shocking, darkly funny and entirely original.
Did I say misogyny? Yeah, only a little. The first third of the film introduces us to our characters: Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson), and Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson), three guys wandering through Amsterdam looking for exactly the kinds of things three guys look for in Amsterdam, and finding them. On a tip from another traveler, they head off to a hostel in a small Slovakian town where they encounter all the beautiful naked women you could imagine. Since it doesn't really serve the plot any, I can only imagine director Eli Roth is showing us what he'd do in Amsterdam, what he did in Amsterdam, a lot of beautiful, naked women just for the hell of it, or all of the above. At the very least, probably the first, because Jay Hernandez seems to have been hired to play...Eli Roth. Barbara Nedeljáková is alright, but her part is smaller than you might have heard.
While the second act is kind of dry (more on that in a second), the third act is everything you paid to see and Roth knows it. He delivers brilliant scene after brilliant scene during the finale, the best being a bit in which Hernandez is forced to make a decision that he probably doesn't want to and the result is disgustingly hilarious (trust me, you'll know it when you see it, and even if you watched the online clip, that version doesn't have the punchline). Roth also, like me, subscribes to the school of "what goes around, comes around" and everyone gets, quite satisfyingly, exactly what they deserve. As for that dry second act, the problem is that it's exactly what's advertised: there is not a single surprise or shock throughout the movie's entire middle 25 minutes. Sure, the ending more than makes up for it, but that's still a hole in a great film.
I loved Cabin Fever. Not everyone else did. If you didn't love it, you are probably not the audience for Hostel. If you did love it, be prepared for an equally entertaining experience, the kind that grabs the concept of carbon-copied, cookie-cutter horror movies by the hair and takes a chainsaw to them in a dark room. It's obvious that Roth loves this genre, and the genre loves him back, because it's the kind of love that Roth has that you need to make a film like this. People tell me that Cabin Fever is 'just stupid' and 'horribly disgusting', which is the irony of his films: If you don't get the joke, you haven't seen enough bad horror movies, and if you don't want to see the rest, you're dooming us to exactly those kinds of films forever.
Starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Jan Vlasák and Barbara Nedeljáková
Written by Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino (uncredited) | Directed by Eli Roth
Next Entertainment/Raw Nerve (2006) | 95 Minutes
Rated R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use