Only for Sick Freaks
When it screened at the Toronto Film Festival, Hostel was cause for two calls to the paramedics after a man walked out of the film, fainted, and fell down an escalator and a woman left complaining of a heart attack. During the screening that I attended, an elderly man seated next to me bolted for the door 30 minutes into the film. Hostel is truly fucked up.
For sick freaks already initiated into ultra-violent Japanese and Korean films, the film’s relentless gore and torture may not come as a shock. For everybody else, including many horror fans, Hostel may be too much to stomach. Director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever) is clearly trying to out-extreme many of his contemporaries in the art-house snuff-film racket. But he doesn’t even succeed at that—we’ve already seen those sliced up body parts and busted skulls in Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy and Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible.
Hostel makes no attempt to be scary and it lacks the creepy vibe of Asian horror. It does, however, begin with a fairly decent premise. A trio of moronic, partying backpackers, Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson) and an Icelandic dude, Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson), are lured to a hostel in Slovakia, which is said to be stocked with nubile women. (What must the poor Slovaks think of their portrayal in this film?) Before the trio meets its fate, there’s a smidgen of humor that recalls Roth’s far-superior debut splatter flick, Cabin Fever. But these are fleeting moments, and soon the hoses of blood are turned on at full blast.