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Old 2nd Apr 2007, 22:21   #1
amner
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Default Hostel

I did something truly shameful this weekend.

I was in the hunt for a movie (bottle of Rioja on the go, empty gaff, nowt on the crystal bucket of any note, and that 'here I am now, entertain me' attitude). Nothing taxing, mind. Good job, as I took home Hostel, some schlock horror frippery dressed up to look like a proper movie. After watching it, I put it back in the wrapper and returned it, telling the Customer Services people at the shop that it was put in my trolley in error by my daughter. Voila! A refund.

Now, OK, first impressions would tell you that this is a fairly indefensible thing to do, and I guess I'd have a lot of sympathy with that opinion, but let's examine the evidence.

Hostel - when it finally gets around to being comprehensible - is about the murder tourism business. You know, the thrill-kill industry.

Two dumb, cultureless Americans (the first line of the movie sees them stumbling into the Dutch night, shouting 'Amsterdam, motherfucker!') are after some serious Euro poontang, and decide to go to Slovakia to get it. The women there are apparently desperate for dimwitted clean-toothed simpletons from the USA. They'll do anything for the Yankee dollar, including spreading their legs like the good sports they are. Fortunately, they all look like swimwear models.

So that's good.

Unfortunately, they also happen to be honey traps for the above-mentioned rip-'em-up entrepreneurs, which is not so good. So, at Slovakia our heroes (dumb Josh and dumber Paxton - which is surely a girl's name - two thick as congealed hamburger fat good ol' boys) duly arrive, and immediately they get their rocks off, they get offed. Well, Josh does, drugged and sent to the standard, shadowy, water-dripping-buzz-saws-echoing dungeon; he's chained up, drilled into, cut, torn apart, mocked, humiliated and basically given a rather stern lecture about the impact of the surrealist poetry of *tefan Žáry, Ján Brezina and Pavel Bunčák. OK, I made that last bit up. He's pretty much taken to pieces and a jolly good thing it is too. These guys are horrendous. It made me think that all philistines should be dealt with in this way. Know nothing about Kafka? Decapitation. Not too hot on Shakespeare? Disembowelling. Don't know your Almodóvar from your Truffaut? Crucifixion. I'm serious. And so would you be if you saw Hostel. Josh and Paxton display such atrocious lapses in the simplest cultural interactions (nobody says Please or Thank You, ever) that were this not a movie about people who kill and torture for large sums of money, you'd want to invent some, just to throttle the ignorant loudmouthed little shits.

It's not their fault, I suppose. This is a movie, after all that says the women in Slovakia will fuck anything "because of the war". Yeah, you'll remember the war in Slovakia? Er, it was squeezed into that period between the peaceful end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, between the peaceful Velvet Revolution, between the peaceful dissolution of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993 during the peaceful Velvet Divorce, and between becoming (peacefully) a member of the European Union in 2004. That war. Remember? So, it's not only the characters in this that are fucking ignorant. The driving force behind this xenophobic, witless piece of shit is the director Eli Roth, who made the only OK Cabin Fever (well, I laughed. Once). In the behind-the-scenes diaries in the Extras, he comes across as the worst American export since Don Simpson. And that's pretty bad. He's foul-mouthed, thick, intolerant, thick, distrustful (he won't shake the hand of a Czech FX guy who suggest he may have a cold), thick, thick and thick. And he has a go at perfectly fine none-hole-in-the-ground Euro loos, the true sign of the anecdotally bereft. He's a real piece of work.

Anyway, he transfers this thickness to 'Paxton' (American men can't really be called that, can they?) who toddles along to the murder factory, dragged along by the lovely Natalya who, and this is as good a telling sociological point as can be made, looks ever-so slightly less gorgeous without makeup (really, that's it). A great, hulking 70s-style concrete pile in the middle of scrubland, the factory is presided over by identikit baldy body-builder bouncers who all wear leather jackets. They pass the victims on to baldy, asthmatic losers to cut up. Asthma, as we know in films, equates to freak. Baldness is as bad as paedophilia.

Paxton, the dumb shit, walks in blithely. He sees Josh on the slab and is actually surprised. At this point I really wanted him to be cut into handy freezer-sized chunks. It would have kept me going through the winter and provided a handy alternative to turkey on Christmas day. But, no. He gets away, kills some bad guys and that's about it.

This is dreadful, probably the worst film I've seen in years. It's even worse than Apocalypto, and that's saying something.

I did something truly shameful this weekend. I watched Hostel.

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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 0:39   #2
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Default Re: Hostel

I was sent an unmarked DVD last year, anonymously with a post-it saying something like "Watch, now!" Yes, it was a (poor) copy of 'Hostel' and probably one of the worst films I've seen since my teens. However, it was followed a fortnight or so later by an invitation to my cousin's stag weekend. Staying at a hostel in Bratislava...

I couldn't get the film completely out of my mind but this had the fortunate side effect of getting me up at about 6am each morning so I could get out on my own and explore in peace. I was expecting some grey, depressing post-communist era dump but was pleasantly surprised by some of the sights there and a great weekend was had. Certainly by me but I think even those that stayed up to frequent the less renowned establishments were more impressed by the city by day.

And what good value too... I bought the first round of the weekend at an outwardly dingy, but internally not too bad bar next to the hostel. 14 pints or half litres or whatever they serve cost me... about £4.50! Watching the World Cup at one of the nicest bars in the city the next day, waiter-served beer, and good stuff too, was less than £1 a pint. And though much was drunk by all, hangovers were absent or too small to spoil anyones' break. Food was good too and a decent meal for the price of a Big Mac Meal over here wasn't hard to find.

Lastly, I have never seen so many gorgeous girls in one place ever before, I'm almost ashamed to say my mouth was hanging open for a great proportion of the time.

Sorry to digress, I just didn't want one utterly crap movie to put anyone off visiting one of Europe's little gems before it gets too spoiled.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 1:51   #3
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Default Re: Hostel

I saw this at the cinema (yes, sad I know) and the most memorable part in it was when the attractive brunette took her top off. The rest of the film I don't really remember.

Which says it all really...
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 12:51   #4
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Default Re: Hostel

Suppose it's up to me, not for the first time since I watched it, to step in and hesitently defend Hostel.

Not that I think it's a great movie, or even a very good one, or even as good as the fun-but-hardly-essential Evil Dead homage that was Cabin Fever. But I do believe it has a few qualities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amner View Post
These guys are horrendous. It made me think that all philistines should be dealt with in this way. Know nothing about Kafka? Decapitation. Not too hot on Shakespeare? Disembowelling. Don't know your Almodóvar from your Truffaut? Crucifixion. I'm serious. And so would you be if you saw Hostel. Josh and Paxton display such atrocious lapses in the simplest cultural interactions (nobody says Please or Thank You, ever) that were this not a movie about people who kill and torture for large sums of money, you'd want to invent some, just to throttle the ignorant loudmouthed little shits.
Which, I believe, is exactly what you're supposed to feel. Josh and Paxton aren't the heroes of the piece; they're supposed to be the worst possible Eurotrip-meets-American-Pie assholes imaginable. We're supposed to want them to learn a lesson. We're supposed to see that scene in the beginning where they take advantage of Amsterdam's many offers in the euphemistically named "sex industry" and wonder if they'd be quite as smug if they found themselves on the other side - if they were the ones being sold as meat to rich foreigners. Which, of course, is exactly what happens. It's, like, ironic and stuff. (I did mention that it's not a GREAT movie, did I?)

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It's not their fault, I suppose. This is a movie, after all that says the women in Slovakia will fuck anything "because of the war". Yeah, you'll remember the war in Slovakia?
Now, it's been over a year since I watched it so correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it rather that a character in the movie tells our asshole protagonists this - just in order to get them to the aforementioned honey trap? They're ignorant Americans, they barely know the difference between Holland and Belgium, let alone the difference between Slovakia and, say, Bosnia. It is a dumb argument to lure them with, and the only way it works is if they're stupid enough to buy it - hence once again proving their assholedom and deserving their fate. (Then again, I've heard perfectly intelligent and reasonably well-educated Americans ask if Bulgaria is still a country...)

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Anyway, he transfers this thickness to 'Paxton' (American men can't really be called that, can they?)
According to this site,
Quote:
Paxton is a very rare male first name and a very popular surname (source: 1990 U.S. Census).
Quote:
Originally Posted by amner View Post
Paxton, the dumb shit, walks in blithely. He sees Josh on the slab and is actually surprised. At this point I really wanted him to be cut into handy freezer-sized chunks. It would have kept me going through the winter and provided a handy alternative to turkey on Christmas day.
My, you're violent. You'd make an excellent gore movie director.

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But, no. He gets away, kills some bad guys and that's about it.
Well, not quite. There are hints that he learns SOME lesson - after all, he risks his life to save the Japanese girl. On the other hand, there are also hints that he's become as much of a psycho from the experience as his tormenters... which of course is standard horror fare.

Now, again, I'm not arguing that this is a great movie or even a great horror movie. Of course, the general theme of "if you sin you'll get what's coming to you" has been used in just about every slasher movie since the dawn of time... or at least since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (At their core, a lot of horror/slasher/gore movies are really VERY conservative morality tales; if you have pre- or extramarital sex, if you do drugs, if you mock the idea of there being true evil in the world, you'll get chopped up by a madman with a powertool. And possibly eaten.) Hostel is part of a tradition that goes back to Romero's zombie movies, Tobe Hooper's aforementioned TCM and The Hills Have Eyes, various low-budget Italian horror movies etc... apart from the more emphasized theme of American ignorance of the outside world, it doesn't bring much new to the table; "arrogant Westerners go abroad, disrespect foreigners and get turned into dogfood" was the plot of Cannibal Holocaust and its many ripoffs too, and in terms of gory revenge it doesn't even touch, say, Takashi Miike's Audition. But I thought it had some style, and the sheer bullheaded relentlessness of it deserves some credit; it doesn't really even try to scare, just set up three idiots and let us rejoice at watching them getting their just desserts.
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Last edited by beer good; 3rd Apr 2007 at 13:05. Reason: Fixed misquote
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:01   #5
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Default Re: Hostel

Quote:
Originally Posted by beer good View Post
Takashi Miike's Audition.
And, for cameo spotters, Takashi Miike is the Japanese guy that comes out of the warehouse when Paxton is trying to infiltrate it.

I wasn't a big fan of the movie either when I saw it last year (and I know I'll be even less of a fan of the supposed sequel). I get beer good's point about the daft Americans but I couldn't help being annoyed at other little inaccuracies such as everyone in Amsterdam speaking German and the big sign saying showing that the train was coming into Prague when it was supposed to double for, if I remember correctly, Germany. Perhaps the American audience wasn't meant to notice this but I found it jarring.

I should say I wasn't pleased with Cabin Fever either and find Roth to be holding up the end of the scale marked 'crap'.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:03   #6
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it doesn't even touch, say, Takashi Miike's Audition.
I noted from the bit of research I did that Miike is in it...a tiny cameo. This - I'm not backpeddling - is at least a knowing homage to some measure of influence, as is the Sneaker Pimps' version of the refrain from Willow's Song, the folky thing Britt dances toin The Wicker Man. It did make the flicker on and off in my mind, like one of the why-don't-they-just-replace-them lightbulbs in the dungeon.

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But I thought it had some style, and the sheer bullheaded relentlessness of it deserves some credit; it doesn't really even try to scare, just set up three idiots and let us rejoice at watching them getting their just desserts.
Mmm...you've lost me, bg. Really. Audition is a terrific, scare-filled satire on sexual politics and psychological manipulation; if this has something to say (and I believe you) it's bloody well hidden.

Roth, as I understand it, is set to direct the movie version of Cell.

Ooh, good.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:05   #7
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Default Re: Hostel

He sounds like the man for the project.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:13   #8
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Mmm...you've lost me, bg. Really. Audition is a terrific, scare-filled satire on sexual politics and psychological manipulation; if this has something to say (and I believe you) it's bloody well hidden.
Well, I did say it doesn't even touch Audition. I do believe Hostel tries to reach some of the same point - macho assholes treating women like dirt and getting chopped to pieces for it - and like I said above I don't think it fails completely, but it's nowhere near the masterpiece that Miike's film is.

And Roth directing Cell can only improve on the original; after all, it's not like there's much story there to ruin. You can't polish a turd, but you can sometimes drench it in enough blood so you don't notice the stench as much.
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:15   #9
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You can't polish a turd, but you can sometimes drench it in enough blood so you don't notice the stench as much.
When we have our first pre-production meeting on Untitled Horror Movie Yet To Be Announced we're going to fucking rock, bg!
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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 13:22   #10
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When we have our first pre-production meeting on Untitled Horror Movie Yet To Be Announced we're going to fucking rock, bg!
*pets revving chainsaw*
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