Josh Keown’s review published on Letterboxd :
“You can pay to do anything. Anything.”
-The Dutch Businessman (Jan Vlasak)
Hostel ABC, 123. Part 1 of the trilogy.
Hostel’s a funny one. For some, it’s going to be unnecessary degradation and exploitation, for others a welcome return to the gristly video nasties of the 1970’s. For me, it was more in the direction of the latter than former.
Certainly, it attempts to be more than your typical post-Saw ‘torture porn’. So I gave it a rewatch just now. Well I was half watching The Hotel Inspector at the same time too, but they go hand in hand anyway. Kind of (Yes they do). It has its shortcomings. It has successes too.
The overarching premise is actually rather intriguing, whilst the cast all do fairly well, despite god-awful characters. Jay Hernandez Is likeable in himself, even if his character Paxton is not. The Dutch Businessman (Vlasak) is suitably creepy. There’s also a cool cameo from Takashi Miike. Everyone else though is a bit of a shit.
The script is alright, nothing too great, but bearable nonetheless. The soundtrack and cinematography are often actually quite nice, and add to the ominous atmosphere.
One major issue, not so much with the cast, is the way the characters are written. Each of our three protagonists are self-centred and quite homophobic, whilst their sole mission appears to be to exploit every woman they can for sex. It makes each extremely dislikeable, so much so that you really don’t care if they live or die.
Roth shows a bit of progression from his feature debut, Cabin Fever (2002) trying, at least, to up the ante with a statement on modern society and human nature. Yet his talent is not entirely refined, and his approach to the underlying themes is hap-handed, a bit like trying to make an elephant walk a tightrope.
I guess to say I enjoyed it would be weird, but I thought it was watchable in its simplicity. The message was less subtlety and more comparable to a spade in the face, but it was better than the normal garbage.
VERDICT; It’s got all the pieces of the bloodfest jigsaw; gaudily brutal and excessive gore, bare breasts (LOTS of bare breasts) and a suspenseful atmosphere to boot. It’s sleazy and stretches believability, but if you can get past all that, there is actually an important theme of the darkness of humanity.
That, or it’s simply a film about three horndogs who followed their balls rather than their brains.
3/5 or 6/10
(P.S. If anyone else watches or rewatches this, what the fuck is the man doing to that guy at about 58 mins?)