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Three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.
Eli Roth. His is a name that means very little to most people. The average John Doe Moviegoer out there will flock out to see movies about gay cowboys and terrorism at the Olympics, but they will probably skip something by someone like Eli Roth. He is the same filmmaker who brought us the efficiently bad "Cabin Fever" from a couple years ago and he is the same filmmaker that is evidently following in the footsteps of another great schlock artist, Uwe Boll. He obviously has limited talent as a filmmaker, that is unless he wants a job at Trauma. His direction makes Ed Wood look inspired, and the levels to which he will sink in order to produce a 'gore effect' are staggering. I can honestly say he is one of the worst directors working today. "Hostel" is his latest opus of disaster and it is ten times more miserable than "Cabin Fever" ever hoped it could be. "Hostel" makes "House of the Dead" look like "Lawrence of Arabia".
This film (if you want to call it that) follows three backpackers (two Americans and one Icelandic horndog) as they trek their way across Europe. We first find them in the sex capital of Europe, Amsterdam. Alas, they cannot seem to find the type of women they crave in Amsterdam -- THE SEX CAPITAL OF EUROPE -- so they take the shady advice of a perfect stranger and travel to Slovakia to where 'all the hot chicks are'. They check into a strange hotel with strange female roommates and then slowly disappear and are never heard from again. Jay Hernandez stars as Paxton, the 'leader of the pack', who is the last left and the only one around to discover that his pals have fallen victim to an underground company that kidnaps tourists and ties them all down and then charges thousands of dollars to wealthy business to have their way with them, i.e. do whatever they want with them, culminating in torture and murder. These torture methods range from nails in the knee caps to a sledgehammer to the head. We get a sordid montage of these techniques during one scene in the film.
For the sake of reference, I am going to compare this film to another horror film currently in theatres called "Wolf Creek". Both deal with the abduction and eventual torture of young people, though "Hostel" deals with mostly males, rather than female victims. What made "Wolf Creek" work was the realism. The torture scenes seemed authentic. The characters were sympathetic and we connected with them. The villain was a true villain...one film typically needs only one. "Hostel" was terrible, for the simple fact that it failed at everything at which "Wolf Creek" succeeded. The violence here does not seem real. It is cartoonish. The people being tortured are not convincing and they don't appear to be in real pain. The girls in "Wolf Creek" look like they are in pain...they looked like they are dying. "Hostel" also failed to present us with one character to like. Paxton was an arrogant ass who had some of the most ridiculous and cliched lines since "Eurotrip". The friends, Josh and Oli, are about as memorable as Deck Swabber #2 from "Titanic". Even the villains were of a weak caliber, primarily because there were too many of them. If the German soldier had been the ringleader, that would have been different, but it seemed as if the entire country of Slovakia was in on this in some capacity. Yeah, very believable.
JOSH: Did we come all the way from Europe to get stoned?
OLI: Hey, I came all the way from Iceland.
This is the kind of humor that Eli Roth finds amusing? Most of the lines used here are from the mid-1990's and seem laughable today. Maybe Roth wanted them to be kind of pathetic and laughable. If so, that makes him an even worse director because they totally take away from the whole 'torture and maim' side-plot. This was, without any doubt in my mind, one of the worst scripts ever put to paper. How did Lions Gate executives read this and say, "We have to make this!" That must have been followed by a "Shazam!" because only Gomer Pyle would be ignorant enough to greenlight such a miserable waste of everything cinematic. However, the film will do good business. It cost around four million to make and it will do triple that and more on opening weekend, just like "Cabin Fever". When you make cheap crap like this, it is easy to make a profit, and that will assure Eli Roth a long career as a successful Uwe Boll. That is really the only difference -- Roth's films make money. Boll's do not. Both are equally miserable and both have as much film-making talent as Alan Smithee.
This time last year I was watching an entertaining little horror film called "White Noise" with Michael Keaton. It was not a great horror film, but I liked it a lot, and thought it was well done. One year later and I'm watching a Mexican Hal Sparks pick his fingers up off the floor right before he bashes the ogre over the head with the hammer and escapes with the Asian chick missing the eyeball. My, has horror come a long way in 365 days. "Hostel" was a train-wreck from the first word spoken, and I can think of no redeeming qualities, other than Jay Hernandez serving as enjoyable eye candy, even though I still wanted his character to die! "Hostel" shows that even Quentin Tarantino (producer of the film) can make a mistake in the world of film, and this is the first, and hopefully last on his resume. Eli Roth needs to stop making films and do something more productive, like taking out my garbage. If he took it out this week, maybe he would find the eight bucks I spent to see his movie. It sure felt like I was throwing my money away.
Longtime readers of this site should know by now that if there are two reviews for one movie, then chances are damned good that one of us strongly disagreed with the other. Since you're reading review number two for this film, you can bet your bottom dollar that that is the case with this film. My fellow reviewer has already covered the storyline part of this film, so if you're curious about that, check his review out.
Review by Chad
Added: May 03, 2006
Eli Roth is the type of director that you either love or hate. The man has a unique way of putting his ideas to film, and as one can see from simply reading the user-submitted comments regarding this very movie, that style usually results in quotes of "two thumbs up" or "worst movie ever". The same thing happened with Eli's debut film "Cabin Fever", but let me say this: if you're expecting something along the lines of Cabin Fever 2 from his second outing in the horror genre, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Eli has improved considerably as a director, and it becomes quite apparent when watching this that he learned from his mistakes in Cabin. I won't say that this movie will change your mind on his style if you hated his first movie, but it's an entirely new ballgame with this one... don't pass on this just because of his debut. Now then, when you consider the fact that I gave Cabin a 10/10 rating, I think that it should go without saying that I loved every minute of this film.
As you can see from the other review on this page, the movie does indeed begin as almost any teen comedy would. The three main characters smoke a lot of pot, they down a lot of booze, there's plenty of boobies flopping around, and there's a good deal of juvenile humor. Some viewers may be put off by this, as it stays in this "safe" style of film for about thirty minutes, but I found that it helped the film considerably. The characters are your typical frat-boys, but they are quite likable and really start to grow on you (especially Eythor Gudjonsson as Oli - the man steals damned near every scene he's in). While I can't say that I shed any tears when they started getting tortured and killed off thanks to the general nature of the characters, I will say that spending a considerable amount of time introducing us to these characters gave us some sort of reason to care about them - and that makes the eventual torture sequences all the better.
One thing that I noticed about this film is that it seems to be over-hyped in the gore department. Now, that's not to say that the gore on display here is lackluster; Greg Nicotero did a hell of a job with the effects, no doubt about it. The movie is extremely raw when it gets down to business, and there are some truly disgusting effects to be found (just try not to wince at the ankle gag). However, through no fault of Eli Roth or the movie itself, it seems that this movie has been built up as being the goriest move in existence and that there is non-stop torture from beginning to end. That is not the case, and those of you who decide to pick this DVD up for the first time may very well be disappointed, especially those of you who stray from the Hollywood horror every now to then to check out what the indie guys are doing. Again, the effects here are great, but don't buy into the hype.
Horror fans should definitely pick this one up. It's got everything one could ask for from this type of film: blood, breasts, humor, some extremely vile torture / kill methods, plenty of genuine tension, and a cameo by Takashi Miike that damned near made me wet myself with glee. I'll close out this review with the line that I always give when I re-review a film such as this - read a few of his reviews, read a few of my reviews, figure out which of us you tend to agree with more often, and go from there when glancing at the cover at your local video store. 10/10.
- added 01/08/2006, 05:13 AM
No comments on this movie as I haven't seen it
yet, but I've enjoyed Eli Roth's take on the world
of horror. He has some great ideas (from the
interviews I've read), and Cabin Fever was, in my
eyes, an excellent little film. We may have to do
a point / counter-point with this one when the DVD
- added 01/08/2006, 06:37 PM
Tarantino's influence on the film was the reason
it was so enjoyable. Much like Kill Bill, it has
that overblown violence that is meant to make you
laugh and have a good time, before you realize
that you're laughing at a bloody mess. Watching a
movie involving Tarantino and expecting realistic,
scary violence and horror is a big mistake.
- added 01/09/2006, 12:55 PM
Tarantino had about as much influence on this
film as he did on "Titanic". This was all Eli
Roth all the way, and Tarantino's only involvement
was that his name was attached. The only relation
Roth and Tarantino seem to have is that Tarantino
had a torture scene in "Reservoir Dogs" and
"Hostel" is on ode to torture. This film was
amazingly awful. It felt like a really bad
straight-to-video release. This is not horror.
This is not even close to the same area as horror.
If this was horror, then "The Man" was the comedy
smash of the year.
- added 01/09/2006, 04:49 PM
I loved Cabin Fever, and this guy is NOTHING like
Uwe Boll. What a horrible comparison. Anyways,
this movie is pretty tame for the kind of trailers
they were throwing at us. I'd give it a 6.
- added 01/10/2006, 02:21 PM
Nothing like Uwe Boll? "Cabin Fever" was no more
creative or original than "House of the Dead", and
"Hostel" was no more creative or original than
"Alone In the Dark". At least it seems that Uwe
Boll knows his films suck. Eli Roth evidently
thinks his films are scary...when they most
certainly are not...not even darkly humorous. I
find that Uwe Boll and Eli Roth are very much
alike in that they both make C-grade horror films
and both show little sign of directorial talent.
- added 01/11/2006, 11:08 PM
thank you i've been telling people this movie
sucked since I saw it last thursday and no one
will take my word for it.
- added 01/16/2006, 06:02 PM
Fuck the naysayers. I loved this movie. The
storyline was simple but interesting. Eli spilled
the gore but didn't over-do it. I loved Cabin
Fever but this movie and Cabin Fever are 2 totally
different things. And bluemeanie, dude, it sounds
like you're on the rag. I'm not gonna change your
opinion of the movie, I know. But I'll just say
this, your opinion sucks. Check the movie out for
yourselves. It may not be for everyone but if
you're a horror fan, check it out.
- added 01/17/2006, 12:14 AM
"If you're a horror fan, check it out." I am a
horror fan. I am actually somewhat of an expert
on the horror genre, notice how I use the word
'somewhat'. I loved films like "Halloween" and "A
Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Suspiria". Those
were horror films. Then there are films like "The
Toxic Avenger" and "The Dead Hate the Living".
"Hostel", like "Cabin Fever" belongs in that
latter group. This was not a horror film. If all
a film does is make an audience go 'yuck', it is
not a horror film. If all a film does is borrow
from 50 other, better, films, it is not a horror
film...it is a wannabe horror film. Eli Roth has
talent? Where? I want to know where this talent
resides? "Hostel" was a miserable waste of time.
Watch other, better, films in the genre and then
you will realize how bad it was.
- added 01/23/2006, 06:30 PM
Dude, there is a HUGE difference between a Troama
film and a film like Hostel. Hosel may not be
scary in a traditional sense, no. But..it does
fit into the horror genre better than any other
type of genre out there. There are movies that
are made to scare someone and there are movies
that make people uneasy. Hostel is more of the
latter. And who said anything about Eli Roth
having talent. This is his 2nd movie, there is
still a lot of room for improvement. And whether
or not a director has talent is merely an opinion.
Damn. And with Hostel what other movies did they
rip off? " If all a film does is borrow from 50
other, better, films, it is not a horror film...it
is a wannabe horror film." So...ALL zombie movies
except Romero's are wanna-bes? That's basically
what you're saying. You're an idiot. You should
think before you say stuff.
- added 01/27/2006, 03:49 PM
Here are some of the films that this film borrows
from: "Reservoir Dogs", "The Hills Have Eyes",
"The Texas Chaisnaw Massacre", "Last House On the
Left" just to name a few. You're opening argument
is ridiculous. And, from his first two efforts, I
can honestly say there is NO room for improvement,
just like I don't expect any Trauma guys to be
winning any Oscars anytime soon. And, yes, all
zombie films except for Romero's are wannabes.
Doesn't mean they are bad...just means they are
wannabes. Eli Roth's are bad...really bad...and
only an utter idiot would think otherwise.
- added 03/29/2006, 08:23 PM
God I hate you. So much
- added 04/20/2006, 06:51 PM
I'm quite tempted to see this after the arguments
on here now. I've heard it is a very gross-out
movie, which isn't really the kind I go for. I
thought Saw 2 was terrible, but done right it
might be good. I'll look into it anyway. Oh and
those last 2 comments are pretty stupid if you ask
me. If all you are going to do is insult the
reviewer, just don't bother. He has offered
arguments as to why he thinks this film sucks, and
you just basically say you hate him for it?
- added 04/25/2006, 03:02 PM
i hate you too
- added 12/12/2006, 11:52 PM
The only problem I had with "Hostel" was it got
increasingly boring after awhile... normally it's
the dialouge that ends up boring me. In this case
it seemed to be the lack-there-of... Oh well, it
was a prety average exploitation flick. 6.5/10...
fuckin' loved Takashi Miike's cameo, though...
- added 04/09/2007, 11:37 PM
I like how people totally attack bluemeanie, as
soon as he disagrees with them. Or really, he just
states his opinion, and they trash him afterwards.
He won't always enjoy the same movies, get over
it. He just has high standards for horror movies
is all. It's hard for me to judge a horror movie,
as I'm pulled towards both the awful, trashy,
gory, sexploitation films, and the real horror
movies, such as anything by Argento, Craven,
Carpenter, Romero. I hated this movie at first,
but after watching a certain horror documentary
and seeing the funniest moment in a horror movie
that I can remember, I had to rewatch it. 7/10 And
only because my taste has changed to gore/torture
more in the past few months.
- added 03/15/2008, 06:22 PM
disapoint me so much... i went to the cinema to
watch it... and i waste the money that day.. but
was most disapointed about all the big
!propaganda" that was going around thouse days...
shit... just enjoy the last 20 minutes of the
movie... but is not enought... at least for me
grain of sand
- added 04/29/2008, 02:34 AM
watched this again tonight and really actually
enjoyed it from beginning to finish, I let myself
go and daze off into the movie.. The actors act
like typical teens and the europeans act like rude
confusing europeans.. the violence is cool,
obviously paying homage to Miike.. and with how
widely it was released I appreciate it even more..
- added 07/08/2008, 05:54 AM
I'm not gonna spend a lot of time with this,
but...Eli Roth really bites the big one. Everytime
I see him in a movie or whatever I just want to
punch him in the fucking face. But anyway. This
film is nothin' but primo garbage, just like Cabin
Fever, just like Hostel 2. Being generous with a
- added 12/05/2009, 12:26 AM
I'd argue Roth has a lot of talent, because it
takes buckets of talent to shove so many tits and
gore scenes into one movie and still end up with a
final product that's absolutely abysmal.