Review of "Hostel, DVD"

published 28/05/2011 | thedevilinme
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Pro A classic style returns
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"Welcome to the Hostel California..."

Roth...a poser but makes grown up horror films.

Roth...a poser but makes grown up horror films.

Run - Time - 93 minutes
Certificate - R
Genre - Horror
Director- Eli Roth

"10,000 people are killed in America each year. Over 2,000 with firearms. Americans... they have no imagination".

That is the tongue-in-cheek tag line for this rather under-rated horror from Eli Roth, he of Cabin Fever, the later extremely over-rated and so fair comment. This gained early attention with a Quentin Tarantino connection as 'Executive Producer' and then notoriety for its excessive use of the gore and gruesome, 150 gallons of fake blood no less. That put a lot of people off and it only really got judged by the horror community, who didn't like it, presumably as it didn't live up to the exaggerated gruesome hype. But the blood and guts are relevant to the plot and so more balanced film fans can only say give it a chance.

Shot mostly in Eastern Europe, where the story is actually set there for once (it's cheap to film in that part of the world) it's not as bloody as made out and deliberately vulgar with just one or two squeamish moments. The special effect of drilling salted pigs flesh to make it look like a grown males knee caps is surprisingly realistic though. But all the gore is relative to the films textures and narrative, this a much more subtle movie at heart, even though it doesn't look and sound like it for some, but the political comment on torture and the use of the internet to enjoy your darkest sickest fantasy sitting nicely for me.

-The Cast-

Jay Hernandez ... Paxton
Derek Richardson ... Josh
Eythor Gudjonsson ... Oli
Barbara Nedeljakova ... Natalya
Jan Vlasák ... The Dutch Businessman
Jana Kaderabkova ... Svetlana
Jennifer Lim ... Kana
Keiko Seiko ... Yuki
Lubomir Bukovy ... Alex
Jana Havlickova ... Vala
Rick Hoffman ... The American Client
Petr Janis ... The German Surgeon
Takashi Miike ... Miike Takashi

-The Plot-

Two American backpackers, Paxton (Jay Hernandez from Cabin Fever) and Josh (Derek Richardson), have hooked up with Icelandic dude Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) to tour the red-light district of Amsterdam for a night of debauchery. After getting locked out of their hostel they meet a Russian guy, Alexei (Lubomir Bukovy), who tells them of a hostel somewhere in Eastern Europe where the women are all incredibly hot and have a taste for American men. Taking up the idea of the detour the four are soon on the train to Slovakia in pursuit of the Eastern European totty, where they meet a strange Czech businessmen (Jan Vlasák), not the last they will be seeing of this guy in the film.

The hostel lives up to the boys wildest expectations and they have two beautfiul Russian girls in their dormitary, Natalya (Barbara Nedeljáková) and Czech Svetlana (Jana KadeÅ™ábková), who entice them into the naked spar and then the local discos, where Paxton gets high on an unknown substance and Oli dissapears. The next day the two Americans go in search of him, a young Japanese girl, Kana (Jennifer Lim), also one missing and informing them that her friend, Yuki (Keiko Seiko), is missing too.

In the pursuit Paxton loses Josh and the Japaense girl has recieves a disturbing text picture messsage from her friend, showing a foreboding derlict factory with a smoking chimney. As the search becomes more sinister and frantic all roads lead to the deserted factory to find their friends, the cimney the 'X' marks the spot. But what exactly is going on in there and why do Josh and Kana have the sudden urge to run and run fast.

-The Conclusion-

After a glossy and brash start that doesn't seem to fit the films ideals. Its explained in the extras that this is deliberate by Roth so he can reduce the films colour and texture down to almost black & white as the film movies forward to express the growing fear in the faces of those about to meet their maker. It is slow to get going and the first chainsaw isn't revved up for 45 minutes, but once we understand the premise of the factory, the film is quite edgy, atmospheric and seductive. It's not scary to someone my age but the narrative keeps you interested and at least you know early on it's not going to be one of those horror films that tries to do funny slapstick gore so they can cram as much blood and guts in as possible, as if that is somehow a sign of quality film in this genre. Its also one of those movies that if was foreign and arty it would work better with that extra atmosphere and gravitas and earn serious plaudits, subtitles making many an average movie.

Critics labelled the film 'torture porn', the so-called 'Gorno' genre...using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act. Another wordy critic commented on the films 'Marxist and Nietzschean philosophy'? The mobile phone conundrum that wrecks most modern day horror movie tempos to create unrealistic and silly situations (text her that the axe man is behind the door!) is swerved well and Roth never resorts to horror cliché for cheap thrills. This is not schlock horror but well thought out stuff that resonates with the times, the unpleasant Abu Grad torture cells and Al-Qaeda beheadings on the internet giving the narrative an air of reality. We know those things are real now and happening at this very moment and man is capable of many depravities and so why not play it in horror films that may even have motivated the sociopaths out there in the Gulf in the first place, and so why cant the Hostel plotline be real? But the Slovaks were not best pleased with the betrayal of their country as the home to prostitutes, wild street kids and mass killing chambers, the director having to make many apologies to return for the obligatory sequel.

The film was part of a deliberate trilogy, although Roth reticent to do the third film after film two didn't do great box-office, no where near the $80 million profit of film one from just its original $5 budget, and getting stick from the critics for its laziness. Sadly the sequel is almost identical, the only tweak being female American backpackers enticed to Slovakia instead of guys this time, but far less gore and structure to show any thought going into it. This is where we found out that Eli Roth is no John Carpenter.

-------Ratings---------------------------------- - 59% approval rate - 55% approval rate
Leonard Maltin's Film Year Book - 1.5/5.0
Radio Times Film Book - 2.0/5.0 - 5.7/10.0 (65,643 votes)

= = = = Special features = = = =

This is the two disc edition with a pretentious amount of extras. If Eli Roth was made of chocolate he would lick himself. The Cesc Fabregas look-alike has taken every chance to appear in his DVD extras.

-Audio Commentaries-

No less than FOUR commentaries here, everyone from Roth to the catering trailer girls having their say on the movie. Roth is a smart guy and so are his movie friends and so his layered track charismatic and interesting, considering the base movie on offer.

-Hostel Dissected-

Quite a few featurettes here and yet more of Roth messing around and posing backstage as they talk about the movie. He teaches the local street kids Borat impressions to pass the time.

-Kill the Can-

More behind the scenes stuff

= = = Disc two = = =

-An Icelandic Meal-

The actor, who played Oli, Eythor Gudjonsson, demonstrates how to eat the traditional Icelandic meal of boiled goat's head, as disgusting as it looks and no doubt tastes.

-Special Effects-

The team talk about all the gore and gruesome stuff.

-Music & Sound-

The guy who does the soundtrack shows his unusual collection of foreign instruments that create the backing track here.

-Set Design-

Ok, I'm getting bored now Eli, who pokes his smiley face into this segment.

-Photo Gallery-

Pictures of Eli on Holiday in his trunks. Ok, I was joking, but I bet he considered it.


Takashi Miike, he the celebrated Japanese director of the seriously gruesome 'Audition', cameos in the film and talks about is work here. Yes, all the other cast members, included Roth, yap some more in the talking heads.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

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Comments on this review

  • mikemelmak published 23/11/2015
    I shouldn't admit it but I found this film quite compelling to watch in a gruesome sort of way.
  • BlackSwan published 07/07/2015
    When I first got into DVDs. I was a late convert, I avidly re-watched the films with the commentary and found that it endeared me a lot more to the work. Having been involved in varous productions, I have sympathy for a maligned work. I probably would have been softer towards Eli Roth's material if I had done what you did, but as it stands his stuff really grates on me. Nevertheless, brave defence and worthy of an E.
  • Jarisleif published 09/12/2014
    E! Liked this one a lot.
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Product Information : Hostel, DVD

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