Eli Roth follows his breakthrough (and vastly overrated) flick Cabin Fever with a glorious gorefest by the name of Hostel. Unfortunately, like its predecessor, the film is sorely lacking in subplot, common sense, style or grace. As a schlock horror flick, however, Hostel succeeds brilliantly. Many a disgusting moment had me cringing and shrinking back in my chair, even if some of them made no sense whatsoever.

Hostel‘You will never find a greater hive of scum and villainy’ than in the town of Bratislava in Slovakia, it seems. Here you can get anything you want, although you better have a lot of money cos otherwise you’ll end up the attraction rather than the client. Hostel has a great premise. Unfortunately, it seems that during the writing (and even production) process, the film never evolved further. There are enormous plot holes, and whilst there are a handful of fantastic scenes, the gaps are peppered with lame and/or boring moments that serve only to let time pass. I felt quite justified in my disappointment with this film later that day when seeing Alexandre Aja’s brilliant Haute Tension. His film is a no-holds-barred ultra-violent horror flick that both went somewhere new and revelled in the traditions of the genre. It was just as harrowing as Hostel, yet brilliantly restrained.

Jay Hernandez (Torque), and Derek Richardson are fine in a bland horror movie kind of way, but I was much more excited by the cameo by genius Takashi Miike, director of such classics as Audition (Ôdishon) and Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1). Rick Hoffman (Cellular) also stood out in one of the better scenes. The score is ridiculously over the top, suggesting something epic like Star Wars or Lawrence of Arabia, when in fact it’s a couple of teenagers trying to escape grisly death.

As I mentioned, there are some clever moments, but Roth has yet to prove he can create a film full of clever moments. If you know the premise from the ad campaign, then there’s nothing much else to appreciate about Hostel. A warning, however: please, please don’t watch this film if you take exception to grisly, bloody violence in your films. This is a study in excess from start to finish, and definitely not for the squeamish.

Rating: 2.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 28th February 2006
Hoopla Factor: 1.5 stars

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