Hostel (2005)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

Rating: ★★★

Eli Roth’s Hostel became a mass talking point and a somewhat cinema sensation when it was first released becoming a real zeitgeist, it was even claimed to be “the scariest and most horrifying film ever made” making way for a new genre of horror labelled “torture porn”.  Hostel is simply a gore-fest and one which is filled with screams, blood, teeth, guts and even eye-balls. Visually disturbing it becomes a great horror with a somewhat average concept and acting as the man behind Cabin Fever does create a film which has a lasting effect.

Three young American backpackers Paxton, Josh, Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson ) decide to travel to Amsterdam for a week of nothing more than sex, however when they arrive they realise how there’s more tourists than locals and no one is interested. After missing curfew and being locked outside their youth hostel a man invites them into his house where he explains and tells the story of a hostel in Slovakia where the woman are wild and have taste for American men.  Intrigued and hooked the group travel to Eastern Europe however they find to their horror that the described hostel is actually “to die for” when they see through a group who exhibit torture to a community, which pays to kill and slaughter.

Hostel has a simple concept, one which is seen throughout horror, a group of teenagers become isolated in a location they’re not familiar with and then encounter uncontrollable danger.  Eli Roth’s version works very well and in a sense is realistic. There is no real complexity but some scenes can be really tense but the main feature throughout is obviously the gore and the huge amounts of blood. Once the first act of the film is over, which consists of nothing more than perverted scenes and nudity, the action begins to unravel. We see torture although many of the killings are of screen; Roth sets the tone with a gruesome moment as someone gets both Achilles tendons cut and attempts to escape with their hills splitting apart. Aside from a few minor follow ups including someone labelled as “Edward Saladhands” everything is rather out of the blue and attempts to heighten as much brutality as possible.

Acting isn’t something Hostel attempts to thrive in; therefore it is only average despite some of the painful screams sounding and looking realistic and overall the main cast being fun and believable. What Hostel does attempt to thrive in and succeed in however, is their special effects and make-up.  Over 150 gallons of blood were used in the making of the film and that in itself describes just how much gore it contains. It was also reported that “the eyeball scene” make-up took more than three hours to apply. The make-up and effects are good as they do make you want to cringe slightly but being very overpowering and over the top it does take elements away from realism and subtlety.

Hostel is nothing more than a film that wants to create as much gore and brutality as possible with no other aspect being a highlight. The first viewing is horrific with scenes which do make you want to turn away but upon multiple viewings it really has no effect and becomes a very boring film. The first act of Hostel too is very droning and seems to drag with action and the main plot only really starting to take shape around the half-way point. It also seems to be filled with silly actions to heighten the gore, such as our main character choosing to turn back into danger and choose a hammer over a gun as a weapon. It is obvious that although horrifying it isn’t a classic which will last for ages due to the amount of flaws.

Eli Roth’s Hostel is a film which fulfils its proclaimed expectation, which is a gore filled hour and half with tonnes of blood, sex and violence.  It doesn’t have any special stand-out qualities other than the effects but nevertheless makes for a good watch upon your first ever viewing. With scenes that will stay in your mind long after the end credits, it is horrifying and a worth-while experience for horror fans.

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