Monday, August 07, 2006

Hostel



--Reviewed by Lindy Loo


Plotline: A group of three male college students is trekking around Europe, basically drinking, drugging, and trying to locate the best piece of ass in each town they're visiting. Locked out of their hostel one night, they run into a guy who tells them about this crazy Slovakian hostel where women are falling all over one another to sleep with you. The boys immediately get caught up in the fantasy and decide to trek there to check it out. Very quickly, one of them vanishes. And then another. The third boy finds himself trying to track down his friends, and in the process, encounters one of the most horrifying scenarios a person could ever stumble into.

Scariness factor: It really kept me going the whole time--and tenseness was the word of the evening.

Gross-Out Factor: Off the charts on this one. I would argue that it wasn't "the most disturbing and violent horror movie you'll ever see" as the trailers kept proclaiming, but it is no doubt not for the squeamish. At all.



Complaints: The movie is a bit cheesy in parts and unbelievable. And it definitely has its lame moments, which I shan't go into here, lest I give anything away. It also begs that you be able to suspend your disbelief for two hours. And at times it feels a bit MTV-ish. But other than that, I was pleasantly surprised.

High Points: I was surprised, shocked, and a bit horrified that I enjoyed this movie as much as I did, mainly because I had absolutely no interest in ever seeing it, given that I'm not a big fan of torture films, particularly ones masquerading as horror films. The movie sucked me in very quickly, and I was engaged and wide awake 'til the end. I was tense and nervous for the main character. The movie and its subject matter were terrifying. And I was surprised to find myself actually thinking that it was a pretty damn smart movie, despite my initial inhibitions. Perhaps I am giving it more credit than it deserves, and perhaps I'm reading into it more than it intended, but it actually seemed to be a kind of commentary on the way we live (*gasping in shock that a horror flick could actually be kinda DEEP*). One of its themes seemed to be about excess and the roads that excess will take us down, especially when we start running out of things with which to entertain ourselves. And good god are they horrible, disturbing roads. And the other interesting theme (surprisingly enough) seemed to be one about meat and objectification. The main character comments at the beginning of the movie about how he is a vegetarian and shows disgust towards someone picking chicken out of a salad and ripping into it with their hands. Interestingly, this theme ends up coming up again and again throughout the movie. Initially I was bothered by the ridiculous amount of male-fantasy naked chicks during the first 20 minutes or so of the movie--there is a LOT of female objectification and nudity and sex. But by the end of the movie, it kind of made sense to me. This was a movie about the way we treat things like meat, ultimately. The way we turn living things into detached objects. Women. People. Animals. Etc. We do it through objectification of women and sex. We do it through our treatment of animals. And, in this movie, it is done in the torture of human beings (which has its own bizarre slaughterhouse qualities at times). Again, perhaps I'm reading into it too much (I *am* admittedly very interested in how slaughterhouses and animal-consumption is brought into horror movies, particularly since it's FREQUENT--think Texas Chain Saw Massacre), but I actually would be surprised if this was not the filmmaker's intent. And for that, he deserves a pat on the back. The movie had some very startling and dark images in it that no doubt will haunt you for a long time. The acting was quite believable, especially in the torture scenes. And the actual movement of the movie from beginning to end was quite skillful, in my humble opinion.



Overall: I was really really surprised at how much I liked this movie--not "enjoyed" but "liked," seeing as it's difficult to "enjoy" a movie about torture. It surprised me in many ways, it was intelligent, and it was gritty and frightening. It had its weakenesses, but overall (as long as you can stomach it), it's most definitely worth checking out.

Grade: B+

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1 Comments:

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Richard said...

I enjoyed this flick, and thought a lot about various elements in it, but it wasn't until this review that I considered the paralleling of the quest for excitement and newness on behalf of the college guys as well as the toturers. Maybe the torturers are meant to represent some sort of ultimate place of arrival for the mentality that initially drove the torturees.

 

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