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(Review originally written at 1 August 2006)

This movie is a more than great one for several reasons. It's not also a good refreshing and original horror movie but also a great, subtle social commentary.

Just think about it. Every horror element of horror movies of the past two decades are present here. Hot girls, lots of sex and nudity, graphic horror and a murderous psychopathic villain. Everything is made out extra large and is prominently present here in this movie, with as a result that it becomes almost a parody on these sort of other recent horror-flicks. Watching this movie really made me realize that Eli Roth understands the genre and sees what is wrong with it these days. He's a horror-fan that also happens to direct movies himself. Especially the first halve of the movie is mostly a parody. It's filled with nudity and sex and really feels over-the-top all. It's also filled with some great humor.

Yet this movie is also so much more than just reflection on horror movies of the past 2 decades. It's also a great social commentary. The Americans are portrayed as ignorant testosterone driven persons who are willing to travel halve over the world just to have sex and they also see the world through their own ignorant narrow minded eyes. For instance Amsterdam is filled with willing-girls at about basically every corner and all the city has to offer are coffee-shops. And everyone in Slovakia is poor and does literally everything for money and the country itself is gritty, cold, gray, boring and filled with old fashioned use objects such as cars, televisions and clothing, like time has stopped there during the cold war. And one of the torturers is OF COURSE a German. Some people call it racist but I see it as a great and perhaps even brilliant, subtle brought statement, made by Eli Roth. He shows how ignorant most Americans are about the world around them, by showing us the world through the eyes of the two main American characters. Everything is cliché filled and stereotypical but with a purpose. Not sure if it was done on purpose that every Dutch characters speaks German in this movie. I think it had more to do with budget reasons. It's easier to let an actor learn to speak German than Dutch. Still it feels pretty weird, since Quentin Tarantino, who was involved with this movie and who lived and worked in Amsterdam for a couple of years and always puts some Dutch elements into his movies (also in this one obviously), didn't pointed this out to Roth.

It's also funny to see how most people call this movie a predictable one. If there is a refreshingly original horror movie of the past few years, than it's "Hostel". You don't know who is the killer(s) and why and how things are happening, until like the last 30 minutes when everything becomes FULLY COMPLETELY clear. The movie goes in several directions at times and than suddenly turns the other way around. For instance the movie begins as a tripping, humor filled B-movie, that you can hardly take serious. But after that the movie suddenly becomes darker and mysterious and in the end it also becomes gory. The movie and its style go into several directions at times and the movie takes some great twist and turns. It fools the audience a couple of times. For instance who didn't thought that when they went into the 'torture museum' the main characters would get stuck there and the rest of the movie would be set in there. Or how about it that it's implied several times in the movie that one of the main characters is a homosexual. Nothing is really done with it in the movie but it's a great daring and subtle touch to make the main character look extra vulnerable and sensible. It was not necessary for Roth to put it in the movie, since nothing is done with it in the story but it's obviously put in there to fool us and makes us think that the movie is heading into a different direction with this extra added element.

The movie gets graphic but not until the end, when the movie fully turns into an horror movie. The movie might not be as gory and graphic as expected but it leaves a lot up to your own imagination. But still there are a couple of straight-forward graphic sequences, which are certainly not just for everyone.

The movie is fairly cheap looking which certainly does also add to the unique feeling and atmosphere of the movie. It's style is certainly unique. Although this movie is mostly a horror one, it never looses its sense of humor and is filled with humorous comical situations, dialog and whatever more. It makes "Hostel" above all an entertaining and amusing one to watch, even though it certainly also gets heavy in the end.

Quentin Tarantino calls Eli Roth 'the future of horror' for a very good reason. If there is one person who can bring back the horror-genre back to its roots and to what they were intended to be at the first place, it's Eli Roth. Simple, straight-forward and without a complicated or sensible plot. Hopefully in the next few years more people start to see this and shall this also inspire other directors and movie makers.

Perhaps you have to be familiar with the horror-genre and its movies of the last 2 decades and '70's and perhaps even older, to fully see and understand this movie the way Eli Roth intended us to see it. It's a movie that will most definitely please the fans of the genre, while most casual viewers might probably find this movie nothing more than a formulaic horror movie, with a simple story and just 'don't get' what is so special about it. (also hence the low rating (5.8) on IMDb at the moment.)

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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