- Jay Hernandez as Paxton
- Derek Richardson as Josh
- Eyþór Guðjónsson as Óli
- Jennifer Lim as Kana
With it being October and Halloween just around the corner, I thought it well to focus on some horror movies. I chose to review Hostel, the infamous shocker that I will admit I couldn’t finish all of upon first viewing. Now being older, I decided to get a spine and finally watch it all. I have to say that watching it now it deserves its reputation of being a horrifying and stomach churning movie, but also has some rather surprising parts to it. Anyway, back to my review.
College buddies Paxton and are backpacking through Europe in search for ladies, drugs and all time partying. They are joined in Amsterdam by Icelandic Óli, who is similar in interest to them and more than happy to tag along. Around this time, in between excessive sex and drug use, the trio encounter a young man with an intriguing offer. He informs them of a hostel in Slovakia that will make all their debased and carnal fantasies come true. Being horny and only concerned with having a good time, the three friends head to the hostel in Slovakia. Gorgeous ladies, drugs and partying awaits them on arrival and it seems like the perfect time for all of them. Yet it is all too good to be true as the first indicator of something amiss is when Óli goes missing. Later on, Josh also disappears and the people around the hostel are very evasive over what they know. It is left up to Paxton to discover what sinister things are transpiring around him. Searching for answers, he stumbles upon a twisted society of torture that is gleeful in its torment. Paxton is ultimately put into this nightmarish situation and must fight in order to survive the onslaught of perverted brutality.
Eli Roth writes and directs Hostel; clearly having a sort of twisted fun with the set up and then the unleashing of horrifying content. His sense of pace is very well established with how the terror unfolds for us and the characters. A slow burn covers the first half of Hostel, with events playing as a frat brother’s hedonistic dream that will soon become a nightmare. There’s boobs, boozing and all these guys could ask for. The main characters are not the most likable bunch, but they conform well to the overall Jock stereotype Roth is going for. We are given hints of something untoward going on, with the opening titles depicting something murky that will become prominent. Hostel in itself is not a very deep movie, and yet it manages to have some commentary on the gullibility of tourists in an unfamiliar place. Plus, there are many self-referential anecdotes and instances of other horror movies coming into play in an assured way, especially at the start. The last forty minutes of Hostel are a relentless excursion into jaw-dropping horror, with no let up for breathing chiefly through the graphic and gruesome depictions of torture. A strong stomach is needed for Hostel’s brutality, though it is hard to turn away despite the horror on show. Gore is the order of the day and in high supply, with Roth obviously enjoying grossing the audience out with what he depicts. It’s not all mean-spirited, just rather nasty in its unapologetic refusal to compromise on the blood. Twisted is the best word for Hostel, with many of its scenes cutting close the bone(literally and figuratively). One particular scene involving tendons is bound to induce feelings of sickness, along with the appearances of feral children who want more than money from you and will turn violent if you don’t provide it. And while it’s a horror, various thriller elements are on call for a tense finale that is gruesomely and shockingly satisfying( if that is the right word for it.) The visual style, that progressively becomes bleaker as the picture goes on, excellently mirrors the descent into depravity experienced by the characters, and chiefly us. Suspense is handled by the music, that knows how to ratchet up the atmosphere.
The cast is competent and works well within the framework of Hostel. They aren’t there to be the deepest characters going, but once the horror starts you do feel something for them. The three main men at first blend in together because of their attributes, but later one emerges in particular as very effective. Jay Hernandez is given the most to do here as the main frat boy falling into a horrific situation. He starts out as a lady-mad guy with only one thing on his mind, but once the terror hits, Hernandez finds a desperation and determination to survive the torturous world he’s thrown into. Derek Richardson is well used as the not so convinced of the journey member of the group, while Eyþór Guðjónsson lives it up as the Lothario with the gift of the gab. Jennifer Lim, out of the women in Hostel, has the most to do as the rather unfortunate traveler who also falls prey to the horror.
A movie of extreme violence and horror, Hostel is worthy of shocking credentials and title as a work of twisted depravity. Not for everyone, but a memorably brutal movie nonetheless.