January 4, 2010

Hostel (2005)

Well, I finally bothered to watch "Hostel" again all the way through without falling asleep after the nudie bits, and you know what? It's still crap.

For those who have never watched it, here's the blurb from you-know-where, "Three backpackers head to a Slovakian city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them."

It's not that the torture scenes are particularly disappointing or even that the story is a bad one (though it's all a bit far-fetched to say the least). It just takes so long to build up to any action and the ending is so rushed that you don't really get any kind of satisfaction out of it. (No "catharsis" - that's the word you should now all look up... and then send it on to Eli Roth at the fake email address - blatanikov@gang.rus - which is on the business card in the film.)

Well, I suppose I did get a bit of satisfaction. The Russian girl, Barbara Nedeljakova, is really very lovely even though her character is a nasty piece of work. She really does have fantastic norks.

The rest of the cast didn't really interest me at all. Considering that it took nearly 50 minutes to get to any gore, the padding that Eli Roth calls characterisation was still so two-dimensional that I didn't care about any of the victims anyway. The Icelandic dude was presumably there for comic effect, and both Americans were reprehensible as the types that go to Europe just to ruin everyone else's holidays.

The gore scenes were quite well done but were too quick and very unrealistic. Why did Paxton (I just had to look his name up... oh dear!) cut the Chinese girl's hanging eye off? Even the worst eye surgeon could probably have scooped that back in and fixed her up. Do eyeball veins leak bright fluorescent yellow pus too? I'll have to check that one out later, but I'm sure they don't.

I found it amusing that Paxton picked his fingers up too only to lose them again later. Now really there's no way that those puppies could have been stitched back on even with microsurgery. In real life, he would have fainted several times because of the pain from that and would certainly not have been able to put his mangled hand in a glove. It was stupid.

The only bits I really enjoyed were the ones that showed "Europe". The bulk of the film was a very interesting interpretation of what Europe is like according to an American director. Is Eli Roth an American though with a Hebraic name like that? I don't know and don't care really.

"Hostel" was just full of stereotypes which only exist in xenophobic imaginations anyway. Taxi drivers in Europe do not all have missing teeth, not all European girls are pretty, the Mafia do not all wear black leather jackets, and should you ever visit Amsterdam, you won't find any prostitutes that look as good as the ones in this film. Ok, I'll concede that the cannabis cafes are real, but they aren't quite so brightly lit or as clean as the one depicted either.

As for Bratislava, well, yes, I suppose I can also concede that there are a few nasty people there and gangs of kids do run riot all over Europe nowadays. But to show that a whole town were in on the dodgy "Hostel" secret was stretching credibility a bit too far. That kind of thing only worked in "The Wicker Man"... hmmm....

I noticed the not so subtle "Wicker Man" motif being used a few times actually, not least with Willow's song being given a nifty update, but if this is where Eli Roth got his idea from, he didn't have to be quite so blatant about it. Does Eli Roth expect his audience to consist entirely of idiots that couldn't work out who the bad guys were from the very beginning?

And what about that ending? How convenient to have all the top baddies just standing in the road waiting to be run over and then have the main torturer on the same train as our "hero". What a load of bollocks!!!!

Well, anyway, I can only (generously) give this 1 out of 10. It didn't scare me. It sort of bored me at times and just made me want to hit the fast forward button - as opposed to some of the earlier scenes which I watched backwards and forwards a few times too.

I don't think it will put me off backpacking across Europe as I have no desire to do that anyway. I've enjoyed most of it from nice comfy hotel rooms, thank you very much, and that's the way I will continue to do so.

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