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Overall Rating
2.92

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

9 reviews, 127 user ratings



Hostel
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Dude-I told you we should have spent our vacation at Wolf Creek!"
2 stars

No doubt in response to the current vogue for watered-down horror films that have had all of the potentially disturbing moments removed in an effort to snag a more commercially viable PG-13 rating before going the “Uncut! Unrated!” route on DVD (stuff like “The Ring,” “The Grudge” and “Cursed” immediately leap to mind), of course, a small cottage industry has developed in the last few years for super-violent and extraordinarily disgusting genre exercises–films such as the “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” remake, “Haute Tension,” “Chaos,” “The Devil’s Rejects” and the recent “Wolf Creek” to name but a few. Unfortunately, most of these films are just as bad as those they are meant to replace–while they are certainly bloodier, they still fail because the filmmakers haven’t figured out a way of disturbing audiences that doesn’t involve simply grossing them out. “Hostel,” the latest film from Eli Roth, who made a semi-splash a couple of years ago with his gory cult hit “Cabin Fever,” is more of the same. It is amazingly gross–so much so that even hardened genre buffs may be surprised to see exactly what can be seen within the confines of an “R” rating these days–but anyone presumptuous enough to go looking for something beyond the buckets of blood and dismembered limbs is probably going to come away somewhat disappointed.

Although designed to be an tribute to gut-churning horror films from the 1970's, “Hostel” actually starts off more like “Eurotrip” as three horny pals–Americans Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) and Icelandian Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson)–are on a backpacking tour of Europe dedicated to indulging in as much sex, drugs and booze as they can possibly handle. While locked out of their youth hostel one night, they come across a friendly young man who says that if they are really looking for a good time, they should go to this remote Slovakian city where the women are gorgeous and willing to do anything and the men, thanks to recent wars, are largely non-existent. The three take him up on their suggestion and when they arrive, they discover to their delight that everything is as advertised. After a night of debauchery that would make Bob Guccione blush, Paxton and Josh wake up the next morning and discover that Oli seems to have disappeared sometime during the night.

During the day, they investigate a little and it appears that he met a Japanese girl and the two of them decided to run off together. This doesn’t sound quite right to them–especially when they see someone wearing what looks like his clothing walking down the street--but when they spot a photo of the two apparently taken that morning, they decide to forget about it and go back for another night of revelry. This time, Paxton passes out unnoticed in a storage room of a club and when he wakes up the next morning, Josh seems to have disappeared as well. Now very suspicious, Paxton begins to investigate but can’t seem to get a straight answer from anyone. Finally, Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) claims that she knows where he is and offers to take Paxton to see him.

This is the point where the fun and games end and “Hostel, which has already had its share of nastiness (such as certain details surrounding that photo of Oli), shifts irrevocably to something resembling the final chute at the stockyards. Without going into specifics as to what is going on, who is doing it or why, I will tell you that we are treated to scenes of torture, mutilation and murder in which any number of people are beaten, burned, shot, stabbed, chainsawed, gouged, dismembered, run over and/or otherwise reduced to hamburger. In one exceptionally outre example, someone has an eyeball pulled halfway out of their head and a snap decision has to be made as to whether they should try to shove it back into the socket or slice it the rest of the way out. Basically, everything that you secretly fantasized about doing to the characters in “The Family Stone” is done to the characters here and more.

All of this has been put on the screen with a certain amount of style, for lack of a better word, and it shows that Roth has definitely improved as a filmmaker since “Cabin Fever.” In that film, he was all too eager to take away from his doomed-kids-in-a-cabin premise for pointless jokey asides involving a stoner cop and a weirdo pancake-obsessed kid. Here, those digressions are kept to a minimum and what seems to be a silly aside–a gang of violent kids who will beat you senseless unless you give them some bubble gum–winds up having a nice payoff later on. Instead, Roth maintains a reasonably consistent tone throughout and he gets a lot of mileage from the ghoulishly grey atmosphere of his Prague locations. He also one of those qualities that I admire so much in a director–a distinct joy and enthusiasm for their chosen profession. Roth has the fever to be a filmmaker and that sense is palpable in virtually every scene.

However, he is so giddy at the idea of being able to pay tribute to the trash classics that he grew up with–most obviously the controversial “Bloodsucking Freaks” (a film so repulsive that Lloyd Kaufman, the head of Troma, the studio that distributed it, once claimed that it was too much for him and one that Roth provided a DVD commentary track for) and the works of Takeshi Miike (who makes an amusing cameo appearance here)–that he never quite gets around to bringing anything of his own to the table. Directors like Quentin Tarantino (who executive-produced this film) or Brian De Palma throw in plenty of homages to their favorite films in their works but they figure out a way to weave them into their own distinct stories–Roth, on the other hand, falls into the same trap that Rob Zombie did with “The Devil’s Rejects” and tries to pass off his shout-outs as a story in and of itself. If you haven’t seen those films, I suppose this approach could work, but since it is likely that the majority of people aching to see “Hostel” are likely to have seen the same films, most of them are likely to spend most of their time playing Spot the Reference instead of getting into the movie proper.

A more pressing problem is the fact that Roth has made his central character so thoroughly wooden and unlikable that it is impossible to develop any interest in them whatsoever once all the carnage kicks in. With a flesh-and-blood character, even an unlikable one, even a minor paper cut can have a powerful impact on the viewer because they actually care about what happens to them. Here, the main characters have basically two functions, to act piggish and to bleed profusely, and they wind up coming off as little more than cardboard creations that spew all sorts of red stuff (among other colors) but never really bleed. Perhaps Roth should have paid a little more attention to Miike’s 1999 masterpiece “Audition,” another film in which a character was graphically tortured for a good chunk of the running time. The difference is that in that film, Miike allowed us to get to know both the tortured and the torturer so that when the bloodshed began, it had an incredible impact that went far beyond simply being a gross-out.

Like I said earlier, “Hostel” has a certain style and energy to it and it isn’t as bad as some of the recent barf-bag epics–it beats the hell out of the stupefyingly awful “Chaos,” a film that could have been honestly described as, to quote one esteemed critic, “the first post 9/11 horror film” only if it had been released on 9/12 (and even that would have been pushing it). However, all of the buckets of grue can’t quite disguise the fact that the film doesn’t contain any real scares, any real tension or any real point. In “Danse Macabre,” his seminal text on the history of the horror genre, Stephen King admitted, “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out.” Eli Roth seems to have taken that quote to heart, not quite realizing that King was actually criticizing himself by saying it. When that realization finally begins to dawn on Roth, it might inspire him to one day make a movie worthy of his obvious talent and enthusiasm.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12912&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/06/06 16:23:38
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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
3/09/10 PAUL SHORTT UNPLEASANT AND PAINFUL TO WATCH 1 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 much.it 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 whoop...total 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Jan-2006 (R)
  DVD: 18-Apr-2006

UK
  21-Apr-2006

Australia
  23-Feb-2006




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