When I first saw Hostel I honestly wasn’t a fan. It takes a looong time to get to any kind of gore (we’re 33 minutes in before the first severed head is revealed – and then it’s another 20 minutes before the real gory stuff starts), and the main characters are all completely unlikable douche-bags.
But, I’ve since come around. Why? Because Eli Roth has a masterful way of telling a story, and mygod, that man knows his gore. A recent re-watch made me realize that there’s actually a surprisingly little amount of blood and guts on screen. I tallied it up, and all the bloody stuff adds up to roughly 20 minutes.
In addition, the longest torture scene is under 10 minutes long, and there are a lot of cutaways away from the action – so you hear what’s going on, you just can’t see it. Yet, if you ask people who’ve seen Hostel what they remember, they’ll say “extreme violence” and “torture porn”. Interesting, non?
Most of the special F/X are pretty awesome, but I found some of the executions (haha, double entendre!) more funny than scary. Sure the ankle slashing scene got to me, but I was the girl laughing out loud in the theater during the eyeball meets scissors sequence. Also, Jay Hernandez makes some pretty ridiculously stupid moves, but he redeems himself by the end. And! The Takashi Miike cameo is pretty hilarious:
“Be careful. You can spend all your money in there.”
You know what does scare me though? The idea of an entire town drugging and selling American teenagers to rich people for murderous sport. You won’t find me staying at any East European hostels, that’s for damn sure.
So even though I don’t think this movie is one of the greatest films of all time, it definitely does hold up – and I appreciate the atmosphere. They really did a fantastic job on sets, casting, and of course, my favorite thing, splatter…in fact, I would LOVE a running loop of that train station splatter. Fantastic.