When it comes to a drive-in classic, or a movie that wishes it was around for the drive-in and B-theater circuit of the 1970’s, you can never let the plot get in the way of a good story. Fortunately for a movie like HOSTEL, there is no real plot, so you never have to worry about that. That is both its best and its worst point.
If you take a soft-core 70’s Europorn and shave all the women, then combine the first reel of that film with a 70’s European torture film, splice in a few frames of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and add gratuitous Takeshi Miike, you’ve got yourself HOSTEL. Once again Eli Roth wears his influences on his sleeve, as he did in CABIN FEVER. Of course, this film is better than CABIN FEVER, but really… it’s not hard to improve on that brainless frat boy love fest. The major differences are he casts his influences in this film, and doesn’t try as hard to make a deliberate cult classic.
This is a review of HOSTEL, not CABIN FEVER, so I’m moving on.
Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) are just two dumb Americans out to bang some foreign pussy and smoke a lot of pot on their way through Europe. All you need is a backpack and a Eurorail pass, and you’re home free for a summer of debauched whore-chasing. Throw in the comic relief foreigner (also the best character in the movie, my dudes) Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson), who serves as their guide and buddy, and commence to fucking. Obviously these people missed the Europe videologue in THE RULES OF ATTRACTION, otherwise they’d know Europe will give you the clap.
Needless to say, the Dumb Americans are tipped off by some helpful foreigners that the bitches in Slovakia are all about the Americock, so they hop a train, meet some old creepy man (Jan Vlasák), and high-tail it to the Iron Curtain’s rusty jockstrap. From then on out, it’s nothing but discos and sex and the best boobs the Soviet Union has to offer (Barbara Nedeljakova and Jana Kaderabkova). At least until people start disappearing.
You know, sometimes people wander off. Sometimes movies meander off course and get boring and bland in the middle. Both of these things happen in “Hostel.” Maybe it was supposed to fill me with dread, but it didn’t quite work. When there weren’t boobs, sex, Oli, gore, obnoxious American businessmen (Rick Hoffman), or Takeshi Miike, my mind wandered off. Slovakia‘s a very pretty country. I wonder who I should invest my Roth IRA money with. I should probably go take a shower soon, since I’ve got work in the morning.
Sorry, my mind wandered. Again. Paxton just is incapable of holding my attention, though it’s not Jay Rodriguez’ fault.
While the third reel really picks up the pace, builds a good sense of tension, and adds some great torture and murder scenes to go along with a moderate car chase, it’s just not enough to save this movie from the second reel. It’s not a bad film, and I don’t mean to sound like it’s a bad film. It’s just an okay film, which is a bit sad considering it just needed more torturing and nudity to make it a more solid three-skull rating. As it is, the flick still gets three skulls, but it could have very easily attained four had it been smarter, gorier, tittier, or more interesting.
It doesn’t even have to add all three things, just one or two would’ve sufficed. Ah well. We review the movies we have, not the movies we wish we had. A movie that exists only to shock and titillate should’ve been more shocking and titillating. Otherwise, you’re just going to disappoint your core audience of jaded gore hounds, even if the tweenagers love it.