Hostel left me Hostile!
2 American students and their Icelandic friend are currently enjoying the delights of Amsterdam's Sex, Booze and drugs culture, as they back-pack across Europe, when they learn about a hostel in Slovakia where the women are easy, especially if you have a foreign accent. With the prospect of easy women to good too be missed the three friends head to the hostel where they discover that it is even better than they believed, except strange things start to happen whilst they are there.
I had heard and read some great things about Eli Roth's "Hostel" and although was never in a rush to watch it, when the opportunity arose to watch the DVD I sat down with expectations of being entertained as well as horrified. Well sadly I was neither entertained nor horrified, in fact I was more bored than anything as I really failed to see what all the fuss was about and I have even watched it a few times just to make sure it was not just me having an off day.
For me the whole Eli Roth's "Hostel" is riddled with problems right from the start which makes it less than interesting viewing, although I would imagine a younger audience may enjoy it a bit more than me. The first problem is that it tries to mix two genres, starting off with a sort of teen sex comedy, minus the comedy, something similar to the equally poor "Euro-trip" and then after half an hour of nudity and general debauchery it attempts to bring on the horror but nothing about it is scary and in general is highly predictable as well as quite laughable. Maybe I am missing the whole point of doing this but the first half hour fails to do anything but make you wonder when anything remotely interesting is going to happen and by the time it does you have lost interest.
What really lets "Hostel" down is an ending which is not only rushed but feels like the writers suddenly realised that the film had no real motive and so contrived one in an attempt to tie everything together. It is the ending which stretches the already implausible storyline beyond any realms of believability and for me makes the whole thing quite laughable. Have I got anything positive to say about the plot to Eli Roth's "Hostel", in all honesty no, I really expected a lot more and got absolutely nothing from it worth praising.
Another issue I have is for a film which is classed as a horror; it is far from scary, frightening or terrifying. The whole thing lacks, suspense, tension or anything which will play on your mind, the only thing is does have is some pretty unmemorable moments of gore. There was only one scene in the whole film where I cringed, which is pretty lame seeing I hate blood and guts, but despite some reasonable make up and special effects the blood and guts were a general disappointment. I suppose again some people will enjoy the in you face blood and guts, salivating at every moment of blood spilling action, but for me it lacked the build up or ingenuity to really scare me. What in my opinion would have helped would have been to spread out the horror aspect of the film through out rather than concentrating it all into the last third.
Whilst the casting of not major stars in the main roles was a good thing, although I can think of a few A list stars I would like to stick a knife into, the actual acting and characters were not really anything major. Part of the problem lies in that I struggled to feel any compassion for the three friends and so whether they met a grizzly death didn't really interest me, in fact at times I was hoping they would and quite quickly to be honest. I actually felt that during the first half hour they did a reasonable job and were quite believable as back-packers in search of hedonistic pleasures, but the minute the film changed track they really started to struggle. When it came to the blood and gore aspect of the film, the acting really took a turn for the worse and was completely unbelievable as at times I didn't know whether they were crying in pain or laughing at the stupidity of it all. Out of all the actors I felt Jay Hernandez did the best job but that is probably because he did seem to be the lynch pin between the three friends and also got the most screen time. What I also struggled with was when it came to the films supporting characters, such as a gang of children who would hold people to ransom for bubble gum; it just didn't fit for me and left me questioning why not do more with them to explain things further.
Before watching "Hostel" I had watched writer and director Eli Roth's earlier film "Cabin Fever" and although I thought it was good I still felt that it lacked something and hoped that he would have found the missing oomph with "Hostel". Sadly I think it is actually a step backwards as for me the whole thing didn't really gel and so left me numb to the whole experience. The biggest problem when it comes to Roth's direction is his failure to build up any tension, he seemed more content to go with the obvious and throw stuff in your face rather than build up the atmosphere. What does save this film feeling more than just a straight to DVD outing is not just a 4.5 million dollar budget but decent product standards with decent camera angles, sharp edits and a reasonable sound track which fits the film.
What this all boils down to is that I was less than impressed with Eli Roth's "Hostel" especially after reading some impressive comments about the film. For me it is a poor attempt at turning the teen sex comedy into a serious horror flick and in doing so is confused as to what it really is. The first half fails to hold your interest and the second half is so predictable and in your face that at times it is laughable. I doubt I was the real target audience, being a fan of films with suspense and tension rather than just blood and guts, but even so I cannot see that there was enough of the gore to appeal to horror fans. Maybe some horror fans will get more from it than myself and with a sequel already available there is obviously a fan base for this film. The only thing stopping me from giving this just a single star rating is that the production standards save it from the dubious honour. If you liked the "Saw" movies then there is a chance you will like this but don't expect to be wowed with originality or ingenuity.