Fans of horror movies seem to vary and break off into different subgroups, which goes a way toward explaining the mixed reviews of Eli Roth’s Hostel. Standing in line to see if the product matched the hype, I was witness to many viewers of the previous showing exiting the theatre and declaring, “That sucked!” Having read numerous reviews, it seems that—while some are content with dangling eyeballs and green vomit—the detractors are not alone.
Hostel is extreme at moments, yes. There is blood and body parts and butchery, but to the jaded it is not gory enough. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that too many people liked Saw and hoped for equal amounts of stupidity in this Lion’s Gate release. But Hostel is not utterly stupid, even when it is. The silliest moments of the film that disregard the laws of physicals and physiology (why doesn’t anyone die of blood loss after getting their fingers cut off with a chainsaw?) are forgivable if one enters into the experience with their horror-movie-logic in tact. The lines between real and surreal are not necessarily blurred in Hostel, just enough to keep the kiddies entertained, not unlike the last Batman movie. Well, that is if Batman sliced people with a scalpel.
There is a lot to admire about Hostel. The good guys don’t always win, the assholes sometimes do, and women who readily engage in sexual congress are not to be trusted. Important life lessons, folks. Add to that, Hostel starts with a bang, pardon the pun, by mirroring an 80’s teen sex flick, easing nicely into a 70’s shocker serving horror fans a homage to those eras fused with Takeshi Miike style torture. Audition and Ichi the Killer seem to have played as important a role in Roth’s artistic formulation as Leatherface and Jason.
Hostel is good, Hostel is fun. Hostel does what it is supposed to do, which is shock, amuse, disgust and entertain. I have seen some accounts that claim it is the best new horror film in some time. I agree. I have seen some that claim it is over-hyped and disappointing. I suppose I understand that criticism. You might feel the same if you are the type to pay attention to hype. Me, I like my horror films to be nasty and tense. If they have good acting and a good story, it is a plus. Hostel has all of the above.