Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson
“Three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.”
Hostel is a trilogy I’ve been eager to review for a while and now, I’m ready to get on board to write my opinions. I saw this movie originally a few years ago and I was obsessed with it and what it had to offer and now, I can think about this movie in a whole new light. I’ve always found this movie’s base incredibly absurd and genuinely interesting: The Elite Hunting group is something that I’ve always wondered about, could it really exist in these kinds of places or not?
Within the entire introduction to the movie, we’re treated to dingy and unsanitary shots of a torture chamber that is accompanied by uneasy music and a faint whistling. This whole collection of scenery and audio is instantly unnerving and gets you on edge, ready for what may happen during the course of what you’re about to watch. I think that this selection of imagery prepares you as an insider as to what is really going on within the movie, this makes you feel a little more included as part of the journey.
As we delve into the story, we’re introduced to three typical ‘lads’ Oli (Gudjonsson), Josh (Richardson) and Paxton (Hernandez) that are vacationing across the world in search of drugs, girls and a good time. I find that Paxton’s character is highly dislikable during the first part of the movie, his harshly misogynistic tendencies start to interfere with the enjoyability of the movie, though it does in fact add to his character progression. Whereas Oli is likeable as a highly charismatic party-boy and Josh shows more of an introverted, personal approach to life, which is why I relate to and sympathise with him more. The dialogue works well for this movie, though some lines were delivered worse than others. I was a huge fan of Jan Vlasák’s performance as the Dutch Businessman and found his character to be horribly uncomfortable yet truly tragic at the same time. During the course of the movie, we’re aware that these three young guys will do anything for a quick fling with a slutty woman and this ends up with horrible consequences for them. Some characters we’re introduced to such as Kana (Jennifer Lim) and her young friend Yuki (Keiko Seiko) have such a sad amount of screen time, yet are lovely additions to the cast. The same can be said for Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova) and Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) who have more screen time but definitely add to the overall quality of the cast as a whole. The two are charismatic yet intensely uneasy to watch, tying the whole thing together perfectly. During the second half of the movie, the character seem to improve dramatically and that’s where things really start to get interesting and you really start to get to know each character who then has depth to themselves. I started to like Paxton half way through and began feeling sympathetic toward him and his struggle despite the fact that he decided to be a hero and investigate the situation. One character that did ruin things a little for me was the German surgeon (Petr Janis) who added more of an uncomfortable comedic value to one of the more important scenes in the movie and I did feel it was a little overdone. Cameos and additional cast were amazing, I enjoyed Eli Roth’s cameo in the Amsterdam coffee shop and also Rick Hoffman’s entrance as the terrifyingly exhilarating American client.
With all that being said, the story does start off a little bit rushed, and things to actually kick off relatively early on in the movie, unlike others but I actually think of that as a good thing. I often find that movies tend to always wait until the last ten minutes or so to really show the good stuff but Hostel is different and doesn’t even lack character detail, which is a good thing for me. Soon enough we realise along with the characters that things are little more than they’d bargained for when they end up in a small Slovakian village with the promise of no holds barred action with some incredible girls. When our main trio of travelling guys enter the infamous Hostel, they find out that they are sharing a room with two gorgeous female roommates and that’s a huge win for them, especially seeing two of them are ready for a fling. Without much introduction, the group goes for an innocent night of clubbing and then they proceed to have sex with the girls they’ve found and usually, sex scenes in horror movies can be well done but these, just like the rest of the movie feel wrong and a little bizarre. But that may be due to the fact that they’re all doing it in the same room. Soon, when the trio’s ‘king of the swing’ Oli goes missing and coincidentally Kana’s friend Yuki goes with him, things start to get fishy and that’s when the naivety comes into play. Josh and Paxton eagerly try to find him to no avail and soon, after feeling woozy at a bar, Josh goes missing too and it’s up to Paxton to ‘solve the mystery.’ This is really where things start to get interesting, as Paxton begins investigating into his friends’ disappearances as now, Kana is no longer around after saying she’d leave for the train with him that day. Upon insisting he finds his friends, Paxton is taken to find out the truth about Elite Hunting and the following of sadistic rich folk behind it.
Within Hostel, the gore is really well done and it definitely makes you clench your toes at the best of times as you see scenes of cut tendons, drilling into knees and lots and lots of vomit. The cinematography and the overall direction of the movie has this off coloured unsanitary colour scheme to it which adds to the uncomfortability factor of the entire movie, and I think that works in Hostel’s favour. You really get to see a darker side of humanity with unhelpful police officers and corrupt children that’ll do anything for a stick of gum. The whole movie is clever and intense and I really enjoy talking about it. The soundtrack on top of everything else really makes for a stand out film as a whole, each track fits the scene it’s used in to make everything come to life that little bit more.
Personally, I do really adore this movie, and I think it’s got one of the best endings to a horror of all time. It’s an excellent look into revenge and hostility toward wrongdoers. I’ve also seen the directors cut ending that really changes the character of Paxton, as we see him as a kidnapper and actually then feel sorry for the Dutch Businessman instead. The alternate ending doesn’t entirely work as a solid, reliable ending to the movie so I’m glad they didn’t include it as the final cut. All in all, I really would recommend Hostel to any horror fan.
I’m also currently changing my rating system to skulls out of 10 instead of 5. This gives me a much wider range to work with. So I give Hostel a sold eight skulls out of 10 (☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠).