Volume 18 • Issue 36 | January 20 - 26, 2006


Starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, and Eythor Gudjonsson
Directed by Eli Roth
Playing at Regal Union Square Stadium 14
850 Broadway between 13th and 14th streets
(800-326-3264 x628; regalcinemas.com)

Lion’s Gate Films

New setting, same old slaughter in ‘Hostel’

By Noah Fowle

“Hostel” arrived in theaters last week riding a promotional wave much too large to satisfy either horror buffs or ardent film fans alike. Unfortunately the second effort of writer/director Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever”) was overshadowed by its executive producer, Quentin Tarantino. Despite the talents of both Roth and Tarantino, “Hostel” fails to separate itself from the dearth of slasher movies currently being released. While not any worse than the rest of the ilk that focuses on fresh twenty-somethings trying to outrun gruesome fates, its European locale is the only attempt to break the mold and it provides little more than some narrower streets and accents to play on a familiar tune.

A trio of friends, Paxton, Josh and Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, and Eythor Gudjonsson, respectively) are on the typical trek through Europe, consisting of sophomoric pranks, an abundance of drugs and alcohol, the occasional fling and plenty of anti-American sentiment. Following a tip from a small-time drug dealer, the three make their way to an Eastern Europe hostel where the women are supposed to be easier than the prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam and more inviting to Americans. The friends are delighted by their discovery until, one by one, they are lured into a torture chamber that lets high paying businessmen pick them apart in a variety of twisted scenes.

Roth appears to have the first half of any good horror film down, supplying the proper amount of crude humor and gratuitous sex for the unsuspecting victims to revel in before their violent demise. But the anticipation to the friends’ separation and brutal torment is so palpable that all elements of suspense have been removed. Placing his characters into a foreign land is perhaps the only fresh idea Roth brings to the story, but he doesn’t relay any new scares or concepts as each victim pleads tearfully through blood and vomit for mercy. The savage unknown remains just that, since little explanation is offered as to how this torture chamber eludes local authorities or why men from all over the world will pay to slowly kill young backpackers. With so little back story to support the film or build suspense, it winds up offering the same red corn syrup spouting from so many uninspired horror flicks.


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