Ryan Chartrand

            The trailer for Hostel warns America that paramedics were called during certain screenings of the film in response to moviegoers’ inability to stay conscious during scenes of extreme brutality. What the trailer meant to say was, “I dare you.” America answered the dare and helped Hostel rise to the top of the box office charts. Coming from a critic that has been paid no money by Hostel‘s PR department, I can assure you that the film is not the most frightening horror flick to ever terrorize moviegoers. It’s important to know that this is only the second film by director Eli Roth, whose first attempt was Cabin Fever, a film better known for its comedy than its horror. Hostel is simply the second adventure into the disturbing thoughts of Eli Roth and sidekick/producer Quentin Tarantino as they convey a world of brutality through a surprisingly small, yet powerful amount of impressively directed violent images. It’s horror through the eyes of a camera that doesn’t cut away and it’s the “eyegasm” that Roth wished he had achieved with Cabin Fever.

 

            Hostel is essentially a cross between EuroTrip and Saw, two entirely unrelated films that bring together Roth’s entertaining formula of comedy and horror. Two Americans decide to go backpacking across Europe in hopes of meeting beautiful women, other drifters and if at all possible, psychotic Europeans looking to torture people. No-name actors Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson, two aspiring actors that most likely will gain nothing from their helpless victim roles in Hostel, play the hormone raging American backpackers. Over half of the film consists of Roth’s version of EuroTrip; just more drugs and less “Harriet the Spy.” After a cliche night of sex, drugs and alcohol in a “Girls Gone Wild” Slovakian hostel, the American travelers awake to a slightly less sexy and appealing environment. No longer in beds with beautiful women or a hostel from heaven, the Americans find themselves in a small, dank room filled with rusty tools designed to torture human beings. This is where it gets disturbing. Their new home is a torture prison run by an international organization that sells the opportunity to torture captured hostel guests for a high price. Roth was inspired by a website for a similar organization in Thailand that practically let someone pay a high price to walk into a small room and shoot a helpless volunteer in need of money. Handcuffed to bolted chairs in a building swarming with executioners, the Americans spend the small remainder of the film attempting to escape from the ultimate hell.

 

            The premise of Hostel is as simple and disturbing as that. What makes Hostel worthy of being a wide release is the unexplainable reason of why humans love to test how long they can watch other humans be tortured. Of the infinite number of ways to torture someone, Roth chose some of the most brutal. Unfortunately, the $6 that you put toward feeling your stomach sprint out of the theater in fear loses its value when only 2 to 3 moments achieve this. I’ll admit I lugged my jaw off of the floor and wondered where my stomach went a few times, but The Passion of the Christ is still the champion of “Oh no, that can’t be good,” moments. Those with ridiculously squeamish stomachs (who most likely will not be attending in the first place) will argue that even the “Girls Gone Wild” scenes made them want to vomit. In reality, any healthy human being that has been exposed to violence in the mass media will find nothing unexpected in Hostel‘s minimal amount of blood shedding violence. Instead, Roth uses brilliant direction to capture the central theme within this idea of “pay to kill.” Listening and watching rich men commit these tortuous acts of evil is always the main focus of every scene. It’s not the fingers being cut off or the hanging eyeballs that bring the terror into the viewer’s eyes. It’s the look behind the eyes of the men who would pay $50,000 to put a blowtorch to an innocent girl’s face. Roth’s sick and twisted vision of these deranged men comes across almost too vividly, an impressive feat to accomplish with so many unknown actors. Ultimately, however, Hostel is not given sufficient time to develop this theme. As the climax passes, Roth’s disturbing message fades away as quickly as Cabin Fever has from any retail shelf.

 

            Hostel is not a revolutionary horror film, nor is it a highly memorable film. Casual moviegoers will most likely remember it as the movie that “had that one scene with the drill…” The squeamish will walk out as the brave reach the unfortunately rushed and abrupt end. When it comes down to it, the most significant aspect of Hostel is that it gave Eli Roth a chance to shine. With Quentin Tarantino’s help and resources, Roth was able to create an entirely different film in comparison to Cabin Fever. Hostel should come with a strong warning that Roth will one day be one of the best horror directors in the industry, not that the squeamish had best hire a paramedic before viewing. Anyone looking to be indulged in spicy European interrelations and the age-old “snap a toe off” routine should form a line party and enjoy the cultural experience that is Hostel. On the other hand, those with weak stomachs might as well just wait for Hilary Duff’s rendition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

 

The Word on the Screen: B

 

Screener Corner

Josh Raser (Agriculture business major): The Producers ” An overall humorous and enjoyable experience. Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick form a great team. Even if you don’t like musicals, you should definitely give it a try due to its historical parodies and sarcastic humor.

 

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