Friday, March 31, 2006

HOSTEL - not scary, occasionally amusing

HOSTEL is a movie written and directed by Eli Roth, but "presented by Quentin Tarantino". I have no problems with friends bigging up each others work, but Tarantino should be aware that he risks devaluing his "brand name" by attaching it to this deeply inferior horror movie. Believe me when I say that I have a very low tolerance for horror: creepy, gory, nasty stuff freaks me out. But I was not scared once by HOSTEL. Worse still, I had a vague feeling of having watched a lot of the scenes that were meant to scare me before, and done better. (I am not accusing HOSTEL of ripping these films off - just of not being terribly innovative.) In particular, people who have seen the wonderful Japanese horror flick, AUDITION, or more recently, SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE will find HOSTEL very very weak indeed.

All of this is a bit of a shame because the story is actually pretty neat. Two American backpackers are travelling through Europe with an Icelander they just met. Their two main preoccupations are getting laid and getting high. A dodgy Dutch pimp recommends a hostel near Bratislava where there are willing chicks on-tap thanks to the fact that all the guys in Slovakia are away at war (huh?). So they go to the hostel, get laid, get high and then bad things involving torture chambers start to happen. For me, the problem is in the execution. Eli Roth just completely failed to build up any tension, or any sense of threat to the key protagonist. That's not to say that the movie is a complete waste of time. Certainly some of the early scenes have a degree of comedy value, not least when they feature Eythor Gudjonsson as Oli the Icelander a.k.a The King of Swing. Rick Hoffman also has a hillarious cameo as a sinister, hyper-active Yuppie in search of gothic kicks. However, any movie wherein a bunch of bumble-gum chewing eight-year olds with koshes are the key menace, is not to be taken seriously.

HOSTEL is on release in the US, UK and France. It hits Germany and Austria on April 27th 2006.


  1. In what sense is a Dutch pimp ever not "dodgy"?

  2. A non-dodgy Dutch pimp would be one wherein at the end of the transaction you were NOT the bitch.