Three tourists are lured to a Slovakian hostel with the promise of sexually generous women in Eli Roth’s Hostel. Once they arrive, they soon learn that everything is not as it seems. The guys immediately become the target of an organization that gives patrons the opportunity to maim and kill for thrills.
Hostel represents Eli Roth’s next feature film directorial effort after Cabin Fever. Roth amped up the gore for Hostel. Following in the footsteps of films like Saw, Hostel is an earlier installment in the ‘torture’ sub-genre. Hostel ups the ante by being even more reprehensible and more violent than the vast majority of mainstream film efforts to come before it.
Though Hostel is excessively violent, it is not totally without substance. It makes an astute observation about our narcissistic tendency to become so self involved that we will go to any length to look for the next thrill or conquest to pacify our desire to feel alive. Roth weaves in a little bit of social commentary amongst all of the unbridled violence to give the film a modicum of depth.
Eli Roth proves to be a champion of practical effects. He uses a variety of gag-inducing prosthetics and gallons of stage blood throughout the production. Greg Nicotero provided the makeup FX for the film and he showcases just how talented he is at his craft.
Jay Hernandez stars as the film’s lead character Paxton and turns in a solid performance. His costars Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson also provide likable performances. There is some slightly offensive banter amongst the three but one gets the impression that it wasn’t intended to be offensive more so than good natured. However, it reads as a little bit insensitive in 2014.
The film builds a mounting sense of dread from the moment the guys veer off course and make the fateful decision to trek to Slovakia. The tension only builds from there as the guys succumb to the feminine wiles of the natives and are lured into danger.
There is so much nudity in this film that it’s almost unfathomable that it managed to get by with an R-rating. There are beautiful women parading around in nothing throughout the picture, so any fan of gratuitous nudity will be more than satisfied. It gets to the point of being a little bit ridiculous but there are worse things…
The unusual thing about Hostel is that it has grown on me upon repeat viewings. I actually appreciate it more after having seen it several times than I did the first. That can be attributed to the shock value having worn off and allowing me to understand some of the context beneath the surface, rather than just being slightly put off by how gruesome the film is. So, if you weren’t a big fan of Hostel the first time, it may be worth your while to give it a second chance for the fact that there is more to it than the exploitation of violence that is so gleefully put on display.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Eli Roth
Writer(s): Eli Roth
Stars: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget: $4.8 Million
Length: 93 Minutes