Hostel (2005)

Starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Jennifer Lim

Directed by Eli Roth

To everyone out there that loves real horror movies, I have some good news. When Hostel comes out for its wide release, it is going to kick your ass, and you’re going to fucking love it.

Hostel is a film about two Americans who just graduated college and decide to go backpacking in Europe before they have to go on to the next serious stage of their lives. Somewhere along their journey, the Americans meet Oli, a crazy European that just likes to have some fun. As far as these three characters know, Amsterdam is the most insane place to visit, so they go there to smoke a lot of weed and see a lot of breasts. While in Amsterdam they meet a fellow who tells them that Slovakia is the place to go to have a real wild time, so off to Slovakia these travel to experience something they would definitely not find anywhere else.

I don’t want to leak any spoilers on this film, so that’s where my plot synopsis will end. Not that this film is The Usual Suspects in the plot department, but for me to give anything more away would just cheapen your experience when you finally get to see the movie. Just as an aside, part of the reason the plot is so fucked up is that it’s based on something that truly exists.

What I will tell you is that you are going to be seeing something that is going to go down as a classic in horror cinema. Although this flick pays homage to older movies (the introduction sequence will remind you more than a little of the original Nightmare on Elm Street intro), this movie is original, exciting, and offers enough that’s new to make it stand out beyond your typical remake and copycat fare.

When I viewed this movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, the room shrieked and cheered some of the most disgusting, vile, and enjoyable things to hit the screen in ages. Land of the Dead was gory, but this movie is sick. Devil’s Rejects was a shocker you say? Well, I’m here to tell you that the big guns haven’t even made it to the box office yet. Hopefully the MPAA doesn’t cheapen this film too much because if you’ve ever seen Pet Semtary or Kill Bill, you can add another great ankle slash to the list (and no, the House of Wax remake isn’t on that list). In particular, gore fans will get to see the best eye violence since Lucio Fulci, who probably wishes he had Greg Nicotero working for him on his movies.

The casting in the movie was done exceptionally well, the acting was great, and there were a lot of women with incredible breasts to make the men happy (and don’t worry ladies, my girlfriend didn’t shut up about Jay Hernandez, so you get something too). I would try to pick out the actor who did the best job in the film, but they were all equally impressive, and everyone meshed to really immerse the viewer into believing what we were seeing could actually take place.

For those of you who ask, “How does it compare to Cabin Fever?”, the answer is simple: Hostel is a much better film in almost every aspect. Both of these films have elements of humor, but unlike Cabin Fever, Hostel is actually quite scary. Also, the humor in Cabin Fever came separate from the scares, and although it was a really fun film, it didn’t come together like Hostel manages to do. Whereas Cabin Fever really divided audiences with such ridiculous moments as Denis’ slow-mo karate kick, this movie seems much more cohesive, and Roth appears to have learned how to create a better movie overall. Oh yeah, when it comes to gore, Hostel makes Cabin Fever its bitch, hands down. You will, however, notice a very similar sequence in the plot; humorous set-up, horror, then horror/humor ending, which I guess is Roth’s style.

So the only question anyone reading this review should have is, “When will I get to see it?” not “Should I go see it?” Although Roth described the movie as not 100 percent complete, other than one special effect, it looked pretty much done to me. He did mention the music would likely change, so that’s why I didn’t mention this aspect of the film in the rest of my review. My guess is this film is going to do well when it hits wide release, and now that Quentin Tarantino is a producer, that will surely increase its audience (much like the Peter Jackson quote undoubtedly got more than a few confused Lord of the Rings fans to go see Cabin Fever and walk away disgusted).

I walked into Hostel hoping that Eli Roth wasn’t just a one-trick pony, and I walked out thinking that he may just be the savior of our genre. The first time I heard of Roth was when he did a Bloodsucking Freaks commentary track that was one of the stupidest things ever recorded (although rather funny), and now a couple years later I find it odd that I will go as far as to say this: It’s been a while since we’ve had a director’s name to put next to the likes of Romero, Argento, Carpenter, and Craven…but now is the time to make room on that list for Roth.

5 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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