Radioactive mutants? Pah. Ghosts? Rubbish. Vampires and other nasty beasties? Give me a break. No. If you want real horror, you need to look deep inside mankind. That’s where the true nastiness lies. Eli Roth understands this. The young writer / director first showed us the evil within in Cabin Fever, his 2003 low-budget smash. Now, in Hostel, he’s going one step further and is not so much showing us the evil within, as removing it with a variety of sharp implements and throwing it in our laps. Because he’s a sick, sick puppy.
Two young Americans — Paxton (Hernandez) and Josh (Richardson) — are travelling through Europe, celebrating their college graduation with all the alcohol, mind-altering substances and pretty girls they can get their newly qualified hands on. In Amsterdam, they hear the tale of a legendary hostel in a remote Slovakian town. The town, it’s said, is populated with beautiful women and an American accent is a guarantee to unlimited casual sex. One train journey later and our “heroes” — plus Oli, a new found debauched Icelandic friend — arrive at the hostel. Where are the pretty girls? Well, two of them are nearly naked and sharing their room. Wey! and, indeed, hey! they think. The drinks are cheap, the contents of the girls’ undies are highly accessible, and it’s everything they hoped for. In fact, there’s only one catch. The girls are bait, luring travellers in so that wealthy businessmen can torture and kill them for fun. No wonder they didn’t mention that in the brochure.
The first half hour is a glorious and funny celebration of youth. The final hour, while run through with an astonishing vein in black humour, is about as nasty as nasty gets, with living bits of anatomy meeting scalpels, powerdrills, boltcutters, chainsaws etc, with predictably messy effect. Basically, Hostel is one part American Pie to two parts Silence of the Lambs, or maybe Porky’s in an abattoir. However you look at it — from between your fingers, generally — Hostel is depraved, disgusting, warped and weird. Four good reasons then to see any film, surely?