Review: Hostel

Okay, so Eli Roth’s Hostel is still regarded as one of the original “torture-porn” gore exploitation films, and certainly it did release only a year after Saw, but honestly… I found Hostel more like a black comedy than a horror film.

So we join three backpacking young men as they travel across Europe seeking little more than sex and drugs, and after being told of a hostel hosting nothing but beautiful, naked women, they find themselves duped and picked off one by one.

We have the insecure, fish-out-of-water guy, we have the jock, and we have the zany weird one. Character development: done. We have Germans. Villains: done.

Hostel is the bare bones of narrative and within the first fifteen minutes I knew that I wasn’t going to find anything remarkable from the story… which leaves its centrepiece: the torture.
Now if Japanese horrors and the Saw movies have taught me anything, it is that often the sky’s the limit… Hostel however, didn’t phase me. I found it peculiar that characters complain that torturous acts cannot be “too quick”, yet the film suffers exactly that. It didn’t get under my skin, it merely flashes by. The worst bit wasn’t even during torture… though it did involved a pair of scissors and an eyeball, but at least it had squirm-in-your-seat tension.

The rest of the film is quite goofy, especially in its closing scenes where the last boy standing has to escape, not to mention the gang of ten year olds who are apparently feared by the entire town’s population! It was so over-the-top that it was virtually clowning around. Seriously, how can people not find at least some of this funny??

Either I wasn’t drawn into the film, or I have a weird sense of humour, or both. Either way, I find it hard to agree with those who say it is a scary film, or even very gut-wrenching. It gets a small amount of favour for a humour twist I didn’t expect, otherwise it was underwhelming.


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