Hostel (2005) film review

★★★

Directed by: Eli Roth

Written by: Eli Roth

Starring: Eli Roth, Jay Hernadez, Derek Richardson and Rick Hoffman

Film Review by: Rachel Pullen



Hostel Film Review


Ah 2005: flip phones, chatting on MSN, people wearing long sleeves under t-shirts and of course The O.C. being played on Sunday morning television...times were certainly a lot more simple back then, but while we lived in that idyllic world, the horror genre had taken a deep and dark turn.

Hostel Movie Poster

Gore porn came bursting through the door with the franchise Saw, horror movies which in my opinion were boring, dull and overplayed. I was not a fan, but I was alone, Saw drew in the crowds over and over again, spanning quite the collection of flicks...so like the slasher frenzy in the ‘80s it was not long until other filmmakers got in on the action.


Enter the stage Eli Roth and his new venture, frothing at the gums Mr Roth, was nothing but the perfect candidate for gore porn, I mean does everyone remember the horrific body gore of Cabin Fever? When the girl shaves her legs and the skin comes off...yeah that was all down to the mind of Mr Roth, so of course, I can imagine his mind thick with ideas at this new sub-genre of horror.


Like a knife pilled high with creamy peanut butter, Eli was ready to produce a thick slice of blood and body parts all over the bread, and Hostel certainly does not disappoint.


The story of Hostel follows three guys who take the typical European vacation in their early twenties, desperate for pussy and weed, in fact, that's all they talk about. You hear the word pussy more times in the first 15 mins of this film than you do in a porno, so much so that their hunt for women and drugs leads them toward a hostel that is swimming in both.


I grit my teeth as I instantly hated all of them, with their obnoxious attitudes and toxic masculinity, I was praying that this was done intentionally so that you want them to die...I wanted them to die, I wanted to kill them, anything so I didn't have to see them attempt to get laid for one second more, and in the scene where they hand over their passports for the duration of their stay in a hotel, I knew they were doomed to die...I mean come on, who's that stupid?


All this plays out on the screen, they club to house anthems, they dry hump women on the dance floor and the audience starts to lose the will to live but soon their buddies go missing one by one...oh no, said no one at that point, but of course one of these wet blankets of men wakes up in a rather unseemly place, no windows, tied to a chair. He senses the worse, especially when that guy comes in and starts to stab him a bit...bet that was not on the holiday itinerary.


Now out of the three idiots, he has some brain cells and his ability to put 1 and 1 together means he is able to escape and uncover the evil world of pay to kill hostels, the ones they had become the victim of, and it’s not long until he realises that this business goes deep, so much so that nearly everyone they had encountered during the course of their trip had been in on it, ready to sell them to make a quick buck and start all over again on the next pussy-hungry tourists.


Now despite my initial hatred for everyone on the screen (trust me, I’m justified, they were dreadful) the second half of the film has a certain finesse to it. Roth pulls out his bag of tricks, where he is able to display some of the most horrific gore and body dismemberment in a manner which is not too hammy, many scenes show the victim’s face but not the violence itself, we see the blood but sometimes no wound, and then other times Roth flips the switch and someone having their eyes melted with a blow torch...tasty.


And that is a powerful element that we cannot overlook, for we, like the victims, don't know what is around the next corner, we are victims of Roth at this point, only he can choose what we do and don't see, just like the executioners of the film can choose their victim’s punishments if you will, we are immersed in this claustrophobic and terrifying building, with no way of knowing how or when we will escape...powerful stuff.


As a fan of horror but someone who has always avoided these kinds of films, I was pleasantly surprised, the storytelling was strong with a consistent pace, I felt connected to characters I hated deeply, and with just enough gore for the lovers of the bloody stuff and just enough ambiguity for those who require a little more suspense, Roth delivered something enjoyable, or at least compelling.


Hostel teaches us not to be blind, not to just assume that everything is ok because we have our travel insurance and cellphones fully charged, for anyone could be the enemy and anyone could crave the thrill of the kill, we just don't know who, and how much they’re willing to pay to do it.


#RachelPullen