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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.1%
Worth A Look: 25.97%
Average: 6.08%
Pretty Bad: 13.26%
Total Crap32.6%

9 reviews, 127 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"Gives new meaning to the phrase 'Dyin' to get laid.'"
4 stars

I'm pleased to notice that there's been a lovely tide of anti-wimp horror flicks hitting the screens lately. I'm seeing some slickly sick cinematic sleaze that has the (bravery, balls, audacity, shame, etc.) to linger on overt physical violence in an effort to actively unsettle those who paid $9.50 to get spooked out. Flicks like "Saw," "High Tension," "The Devil's Rejects," and the "Texas Chainsaw" remake have been painted with a rather dismissive paint-brush by the unimpressed, as if graphic gore is something brand-new to the genre and patently reprehensible in any case. Well, I'll tell you what I think is pretty damn pathetic: the act of watering down a film that's supposed to be scary, unsettling, or shocking just to earn a PG-13 rating and pull in a teenage audience that'll, frankly, go see any random movie on a Friday night. So dismiss Eli Roth's latest, "Hostel," as gruesome nastiness if you like. At least it delivers on its promises.

Hostel is not a "boo!" sort of movie. It's not about stalkers in dark corners or monsters under the bed. It's about the evil that men often do, if not necessarily in real life, then certainly within really nasty horror flicks like Hostel. It's the kind of movie that leaves you walking out of the theater on a horror-high, but also quietly thrilled that you're still safe, sound, and on your way home from a fun time at the multiplex. This is a grim, gory, and unapologetically grungy piece of "survival horror," and if the flick takes its good, sweet time getting to the meat of the matter, it's because Roth is having such a good time teasing you with the promise of inevitable unpleasantries.

Story in a nutshell: Three horny young guys travel to a hostel in the middle of Slovakia, a location they're sure is just swarming with mega-hot babes with mega-loose morals. Turns out that this hostel is sort of like a human-sized roach motel. Horny bastards check in, but they rarely check out. Precisely who is doing the torturing and murdering to whom and why I shall not say, as Hostel's second half doles out a few worthwhile surprises that, if you kept yourself spoiler-free, will come off as unsettlingly entertaining. Suffice to say it involves things like drills, pliers, saws, and massive torture chambers filled with former tourists strapped to metal chairs and nailed into place.

Yeah, it's that kind of movie, which means that if you go see it and you get all offended, you've nobody to blame but yourself.

If the second half of Hostel is laden with grimy gore, sleazy slashers, and disturbing dispatches, then the first is more or less a mild remake of An American Werewolf in London, mixed with liberal doses of Porky's-style boobiness. It's during this stretch that we get to know our three semi-heroes: Josh is the sensitive guy, Oli is the goofy horn-dog, and Paxton is the petulant leader. Some might argue that the "non-horror" section of Hostel (which runs about 40-some minutes) is too long, leering, and indulgent, but I found that this section lulled me into somewhat of a "comedy" vibe, so when the gristle really started hitting the grills, many in the audience simply weren't prepared for it. (Suckers!)

And if you bother to look for it, Hostel actually contains some fairly nifty subtextual themes. The three young men are ruled by their libidos to an almost satirical degree, and all they're interested in is getting their hands (and other parts) on some fine female flesh. But there's a satisfying turnabout that occurs when Hostel gets darker, because our three horny heroes are now the "meat" -- and the way their own flesh is utilized by others is pretty damn alarming. In addition to being "about" nasty jolts, bare breasts, and goopy gore, Hostel is also about the ways in which we use the bodies of other people, and how it's often not in a wholesome or unselfish fashion.

As he proved with his first effort, 2003's Cabin Fever, writer/director Eli Roth has a real passion for fratboy humor and hardcore splatter, and Hostel balances both components quite effectively. While the movie's never fall-down funny or terrifyingly scary, Roth combines the ingredients with enough of a balance to keep you off-kilter. The film is made for people who like "extreme" horror, and while that's obviously not a guarantee that all gorehounds will dig the Hostel menu, I'm of the opinion that this flick is a whole lot better than most of what passes for "horror" these days. Frankly I'd take the last 40 minutes of Hostel over just about any genre film with a big-studio label on it, because, great movie or not, Hostel exhibits a real affection for the old-school grindhouse horror flicks.

This is not to say that all a horror flick needs is a grungy atmosphere, a palpable affection for the genre, and some graphic dispatches to be successful. Last year's The Devil's Rejects bored, numbed, and irritated me with its over-the-top garishness, so it's not like anything with more than three quarts of spilled blood earns a free pass from yours truly. But Hostel sucked me in pretty effectively from the word go, and while I was more than ready for it when the nasty bits finally showed up, I was never bored or irritated by Roth's slow-burn set-up.

I suspect that "Hostel" will, as many horror flicks do, divide moviegoers right down the middle, regardless of whether they're hardcore horror-heads or not. Some will see a simplistic and transparent take on concepts cribbed from the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," while others will see some familiar conceits dressed with a nasty new coat of paint. Me, I think it's a pretty darn fine piece of horror-making ... although obviously stuff like this is not for everyone.

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originally posted: 01/06/06 19:22:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell the only good torture porn movie 4 stars
11/28/10 daniel vermillion Wow! Breathtaking thrills! Chilling suspense! And that dialogue: "I won't tell anybody, let 3 stars
2/21/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Much better than I thought it would be 4 stars
1/18/09 action movie fan an actually engrossing torture porn flick with a good stoyr and suspense 4 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Deeply unpleasant, misanthropic excrement on cellulloid.Absolutely horrid! 1 stars
11/24/08 action fucking sick dude 1 stars
10/28/08 Sugarfoot Too repetitive and predictable to be scary, though the gore factor is there. 2 stars
9/10/08 Borat Eli Roth talked up this movie way to didnt deserve the hype. 3 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Promising, creepy set-up turns into overly gory house-of-horrors shit. Roth goes too far! 2 stars
2/11/08 Mark Great Horror movie, this is the new benchmark 5 stars
10/28/07 Jest Eli Roth and Uwe Boll need to kill themselves to save cinema 1 stars
10/04/07 Flesh-GTA I noticed all the bad coments are antigore. Yeah Gore!!PS I Love this Film, Keep it up Eli! 5 stars
9/26/07 dude unwatchable 1 stars
7/19/07 Alice The Scary movies, american pie lovers, will prob love this also, so: A NO BRAINER 1 stars
5/06/07 Dan Lipian A surprisingly intelligent, albeit excessively gory, take on seeking pleasures of the flesh 5 stars
4/18/07 Sally SUCKED! 1 stars
4/02/07 Dark Enchantress i have shit better things out of my ass 1 stars
3/31/07 fools♫gold Pointless nudity and Hitchcock-style could-be-true horror story that everyone hates?! 3 stars
2/08/07 Raph Branca Sexy, scary, bloody. Everything a horror film should be. 5 stars
2/02/07 Shobert Piss poor filmmaking, nonexistant script, laughable acting, stupid movie for idiots. 1 stars
1/18/07 del ME LIKEY GORE AND HAVE NO BRAIN!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/21/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, great gore 5 stars
12/03/06 seonaid Hideously brilliant. Good, senseless gore, but, surprisingly, with a fairly original plot. 5 stars
11/14/06 millersxing Miike fan disappointed both by that brief cameo and by dull storytelling. 2 stars
11/10/06 American Slasher Goddess Decent enough and much better then the horribly goofy Cabin Fever. 3 stars
11/02/06 Roy R. Pryor Those who vilify me for watchin "too gross" AMERICAN PIE should be forced to watch THIS! 1 stars
11/02/06 bobby Made me feel dirty just watching it. Set back Eatern European tourism 10 years! 4 stars
10/31/06 pete.chesworth very creepy film with a sense of dread pervading the screen 4 stars
10/29/06 Tara this movie was quite pointless, and the effects looked pretty fake 2 stars
10/29/06 Pritchett Not scary, not stylish, pointless gore. Total yawn-inducing garbage. 1 stars
10/22/06 Dillon Uneven and a little dull, but it might work for you if you like this kind of thing. 3 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 5 stars
10/18/06 AJ Muller Eli Roth is here to stay, and we horror freaks should be MIGHTY thankful 5 stars
9/22/06 Pimp It kicked heaps of arse best thing I've seen tits and violence what a great combo 5 stars
9/11/06 truth eli roth redeems himself after the horrible cabin fever 4 stars
8/28/06 anthonyuk lacked any tension, overhyped garbage, almost laughable, lets hope eli roth retires soon! 1 stars
8/23/06 chris f best horror movie ive seen!!! 5 stars
8/19/06 Beau Good, woodnt see it twice. the producer/director 'quentin' is full of sick plots, worth 2 c 4 stars
8/18/06 Vince Good idea nicely executed 4 stars
8/17/06 Senoa It's bloody, it's gory. It's well done, but watch it twice and you need help. 4 stars
8/14/06 Me I love this movie it does not suck and jay hernandez is SEXY!! 5 stars
8/05/06 Sumixam great idea poorly executed (pardon the pun) 3 stars
7/22/06 Agent Sands Really quite a good movie, just poorly misadvertised. 4 stars
7/19/06 Steve Has to be the darkest horror film I've seen. Extremely hardcore horror! It was great! 5 stars
7/15/06 Anthony G Worth seeing one time just to say you've seen it, after that you should hang yourself. 1 stars
6/23/06 TempLoop Better than I thought it would be 4 stars
6/15/06 Indrid Cold Like Cabin Fever, it's relatively good for its genre. Worth seeing once. 3 stars
6/13/06 Tasia I liked this movie, but I think it was way too hyped up. I don't think it's worth owning 3 stars
6/04/06 William Goss Extremely entertaining exploitation. However, post-screening shower sold separately. 4 stars
5/25/06 Jon How can you guys say this was ok!?!?? You people are sick. WORST. MOVIE. EVER. 1 stars
5/20/06 JeromeBosch Christine, what did you dislike? 4 stars
5/20/06 Christine Wilbik It wasn't worth watching. One of the worst movies ever made. 1 stars
5/15/06 Monday Morning Very tasteful, compared to Kill Bill. 1 stars
5/11/06 Jerome Bosch see it for the babes! 4 stars
5/11/06 Agent Sands Misadvertised. It's actually a good movie. 4 stars
5/05/06 Vince Pretty good gore-fest actually 4 stars
5/04/06 ES The 'I'm American I have to get vengence on all who have wronged me" ending killed the film 1 stars
5/01/06 Leslie My interest to see it /"based on true events" is it possible? No trip to Europe for me! 3 stars
4/27/06 Sheldon This is a sign that good horror movies are endangered 1 stars
4/27/06 Bill This movie was horrible and it sucked! 1 stars
4/24/06 Annie From all the hype, I expected more, big letdown... 3 stars
4/23/06 Mick I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of the film the best. 5 stars
4/23/06 Josh Standlee Fuck you, Mike D! This movie kicked hella ass!! 5 stars
4/23/06 Danny I do believe this is the most repulsive movie ever. Total waste of time. 1 stars
4/21/06 Nicko What the fuck are you talking about Laffy 5 stars
4/20/06 Laffy Taffy Disgusting and it sucked 1 stars
4/20/06 tatum Terrible letdown from Cabin Fever, lifeless and a bore 1 stars
4/18/06 Kevin experience This movie was total crap, plotless pointless and pathetic 1 stars
4/18/06 does what it is supposed to do b-movie horror at it's finest. at least better than DEVIL'S REJECTS 5 stars
4/10/06 Rub Molesto Why isn't there a "no star" rating? I wouldn't but this movie to scrape the shit off my ass 1 stars
4/04/06 Mike D Total shit...only losers like this crap. 1 stars
3/15/06 sandra lopez hey! well i saw the movie hostel and it's verry good i liked it. jay i love you. 5 stars
3/13/06 chris f very sick and gory i enjoyed it 5 stars
3/12/06 Frenzy Dumb movie 2 stars
3/12/06 Reklc If this is what americans think about Europe we're lucky not to be ocupied. Sucks!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Slow in the beginning, but once it gets going it doesn't stop 3 stars
3/09/06 Marcia Lartz OMG, EricDSnider! Where's fart humor when we need it Svetlana&Natalia, please blast one! 1 stars
3/08/06 Jane Austen's Enema WRONG TURN made me sure to visit West Virginia. Too bad Slovakia's so far away! 2 stars
3/08/06 Allison Lafferty Does such shit really happen in Bratislava? Ugh! Almost coulda made me a Lesbian (LMAO). 2 stars
3/03/06 Bleak Brilliant!!! anyone who hated this doesnt have a clue 5 stars
3/02/06 ronald total rubbish.Fuck you roth 1 stars
2/26/06 Dannothemoviemanno Liked Cabin Fever.. bored with this. 2 stars
2/17/06 BoondockTwat This was such a stupid movie...if you liked it, you're stupid, too. Eli Roth stupid. 1 stars
1/31/06 Agent Sands What the fuck?! This was really really really good! 5 stars
1/30/06 Amy I have never puked after a movie, but this movie made me!!! 2 stars
1/21/06 Flyboy A total piece of shit with absolutely no style and a nonexistant script. A complete waste. 1 stars
1/21/06 SoHo Defend it as you may wish, in the end you're defending a pile of turds in drag. 1 stars
1/20/06 ChappyX Not for people who like story structure, characters, or any resembling an actual script. 1 stars
1/19/06 kat Dropped to #5 in second week...ha! People DO have taste! Wow! 1 stars
1/18/06 ShadowFace5 I enjoyed the movie. Good concept. 4 stars
1/18/06 Jon Gory, but not scary. 4 stars
1/18/06 Larry The people who liked this are the same who liked DEVIL'S REJECTS - RETARDS!!!!! 1 stars
1/17/06 KevinG "wtf is wrong with yall???" We have taste...and you do not. 1 stars
1/16/06 Jai Alai I have to say that I like it far more than I thought I would 5 stars
1/16/06 Jesus This movie ROCKED! wtf is wrong with yall??? 5 stars
1/16/06 gerald If Eli Roth is the future, we should all repent right now... 1 stars
1/15/06 Gerald Sherfy Roth should go back to film school: shades of Pulp Fiction anyone? 1 stars
1/15/06 Sam Justus Eli Roth is definitely the future of horror! 5 stars
1/15/06 Larrold Not scary, not really that gory, no suspense, no style...totally pointless and BAD. 1 stars
1/14/06 Jennifer this was one of the best horror movies I have seen in a long time 4 stars
1/14/06 Gummo Like a 12-year-old retard attempting to be profound...pathetic. 1 stars
1/13/06 Perry Mason About as scary and disturbing as getting a tooth pulled. 1 stars
1/13/06 Mumba If I heard the word "Dude" one more time! What a S-T-U-P-I-D movie!! 1 stars
1/12/06 TriggerHappy A complete waste of time...I'd say talent, too, but Eli Roth doesn't have any. 1 stars
1/11/06 Simon Some of the violence was disturbing enough, so it does its job there. but oh so pointless! 2 stars
1/11/06 Blobby One of the DUMBEST, worst pieces of SHIT I've ever seen in a theater!!! 1 stars
1/10/06 kmdewitt Doesnt EVEN compare to Saw. Hostel is a bloody, limb-cutting porn. 2 stars
1/10/06 Nekro Badly written and directed. Zero suspense and overrated gore. Pass. 1 stars
1/09/06 lapis A big load of horse manure posing as some kind of bad movie. 1 stars
1/09/06 Flounder One of the most entertaining horror flicks to come down the pike in quite some time. 5 stars
1/09/06 lee Not enough blood, but still entertaining. 4 stars
1/09/06 Kali Gore - big crap (and boring) storyline, acting, script, plot, characters. 1 stars
1/09/06 wrob Disturbing and completely plausable. Well done. 5 stars
1/09/06 Agent Sands OK, so it wasn't as shocking as everyone thought it would be, but it's still great. 4 stars
1/09/06 lumpy This movie was dung...and the gore wasn't even that great! Fuck this crap... 1 stars
1/08/06 me pseudo snuff films suck 1 stars
1/08/06 y2mckay Fuck SAW and dumbass PG-13 horror. Plenty of titties, gore, suspense, and humor. 4 stars
1/08/06 Bitchum Very badly-written and badly-made...the gore doesn't save it. 1 stars
1/08/06 aimless Eurotrip meets Toolbox Murders but it could use Michelle Tractenberg 2 stars
1/07/06 SlappytheFrog 'Sorry, Mr. Roth, but you're just no Takashi Miike... 1 stars
1/07/06 rory bore fest 1 stars
12/16/05 Groth Piss poor attempt at grindhouse Miike 1 stars
9/22/05 marajade29sm Finally, a horror film that truly doesn't back down from its subject matter! 5 stars
9/18/05 pierre bonhomme Just saw it at Toronto Fest - 2 Thumbs Up!! The best horror ride In years! 5 stars
9/18/05 L. Anderson Only for those who LOVE gore... 4 stars
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  06-Jan-2006 (R)
  DVD: 18-Apr-2006



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