"Hostel" is definitely not a film for everyone. With intense depictions of torture and camera shots that force the viewer to observe every gory detail, "Hostel" pushes the R rating to its limit.
Produced by Quentin Tarantino and written and directed by new comer Eli Roth, this film gave the horror movie genre a wake up call that it desperately needed after the rise of the pg-13 horror films
The film begins with three friends Paxton (Jay Hernandez) Josh (Derek Richardson) and their new found friend Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) who are backpacking through Europe. Paxton is the typical college guy who encourages all of the bad behavior that they participate in. Josh on the other hand is the shy type and has to be forced to do anything. Then there is the laid back Icelander Oli who Josh and Paxton met on their travels and has now joined their group.
Of course they partake in the activities of drug use and other debauchery that characters in horror movies usually do, but what they are really looking for are beautiful women. This is when the three bump into a local in Amsterdam who tells them of a secret hostel in Slovakia where the most gorgeous women are located.
Unable to resist, the three jump on the next train to Slovakia. At the hostel things start to take turn for the worse when after the first night Oli is missing. After worrying a bit Paxton and Josh brush it off and decide to continue partying with the girls they have met. Naturally the next morning Josh cannot be found. Paxton then becomes desperate to find his missing friends. Interrogating the girls they were with Paxton is lead to a place where people are violently tortured as a way of fulfilling people's fantasies and reaching a new emotional rush.
The horror movie genre has become extremely formulaic recently with movies that are either remakes of older films or use every cliché possible. Fortunately Roth being a fan of horror movies knows what has become tiresome and tries breaks away from the sameness that has corrupted the genre. Although he does resort to using characters that are the typical young rule breakers, they are given some characterization that allows the viewer to feel sympathy for their situation. Not to mention when the characters do something that might seem stupid, he gives ample reason for their actions.
What Roth does well is he understands exactly how to build tension throughout the film. Alot of horror films have relied on the use of quick cuts and cheap scares in order to frighten the viewer. Roth though utilizes the atmosphere of the scene by using close up shots that allude to the painful acts that will soon occur. Do not worry though because when those acts do occur the camera does not switch over to something else. Roth instead decides to show the whole gruesome act. This gives the film an intensity that other horror films have begun to lack.
Realism is a key element that Roth emphasizes throughout the film. From what I have read the premise for the movie originated when Roth stumbled upon a website that said one could kill someone for $10,000. Thus the movie advertised that it was based on true events. Here he uses ordinary people in a plausible situation in order to cause fear. This strays away from the typical plot of an un-killable monster or a ghost that has been overdone.
"Hostel" is a horror movie that is refreshing due to its original story and strong direction from Eli Roth. Be warned though that this movie is fairly intense at times, but any fan of the genre will appreciate this fresh approach to horror film making.