Hostel (2005 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Eli Roth|
|Written by||Eli Roth|
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Edited by||George Folsey Jr.|
|Box office||$80.6 million|
Hostel is a 2005 American horror film written and directed by Eli Roth. It stars Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eyþór Guðjónsson, and Barbara Nedeljáková about a mysterious organization that tortures and kills kidnapped tourists.
College students Paxton and Josh are travelling across Europe with their Icelandic friend Óli. In the Netherlands, they visit an Amsterdam nightclub, followed by a brothel. Unable to get back into their hostel because of a curfew, they accept the offer of a man named Alexei to stay at his apartment. He convinces them that, instead of going to Barcelona, they should visit a hostel in Slovakia which is filled with beautiful and desperate women.
The three board a train to Slovakia, where they encounter a Dutch Businessman, who touches Josh's leg. Josh yells at him, causing him to leave.
Arriving in Slovakia, they find that their roommates in the hostel are two women, Natalya and Svetlana. The women invite them to a spa, and later to a disco. Outside the disco, Josh has a run in with a gang of local criminal kids who are Gypsies. The Dutch Businessman intervenes to defend him. Josh buys him a beer and apologizes for his reaction on the train.
Paxton and Josh have sex with Natalya and Svetlana, while Óli leaves with the desk girl, Vala. The next morning, Óli doesn't return. The desk clerk tells them Óli checked out. The two are then approached by a Japanese woman named Kana, who shows them a photo of Óli and her friend Yuki, who is also missing. Later the group receive a message from Óli with a supposed selfie claiming he has gone home. Elsewhere, Óli has been decapitated, while Yuki is being tortured. Josh is anxious to leave, but Paxton convinces him to stay one more night with Natalya and Svetlana. Both women later slip both men tranquilizer. Josh feels sick, goes back to the hostel and faints on his bed. Also feeling sick, Paxton goes to the bathroom and ends up locked in the pantry.
Josh wakes up in a dungeon-like room, where the Dutch Businessman begins maiming him with a drill. Musing over his dream of becoming a surgeon, the Dutch Businessman drills holes into Josh's body, slices his achilles tendons, then slits his throat with a scalpel.
Paxton wakes up in the disco and returns to the hostel and learns that he had supposedly checked out. Paxton is given a new room, where he is greeted by two women who invite him to the spa. Suspicious, he locates Natalya and Svetlana, who tell him that Josh went to an "art exhibit". Natalya takes Paxton to an old factory, where he sees Josh's mutilated corpse being stitched together by the Dutch Businessman. Two men drag Paxton down a hallway, passing by several rooms where other people are being tortured. Paxton is restrained in a chair and prepped to be tortured by a German client named Johann. Paxton attempts to plead with Johann by speaking German, but Johann places a ball-gag in his mouth, which he removes after Paxton vomits in fear.
While cutting off Paxton's fingers with a chainsaw, Johann unintentionally severs his restraints. Johann slips on the ball-gag and falls over, severing his own leg with the chainsaw. Paxton reaches for a gun and shoots Johann in the head. He then kills a guard before leaving the room. He finds the elevator to the top floor, where he changes into business clothes and finds a business card for the Elite Hunting Club, an organization that allows rich people pay to kill and mutilate tourists. On the way out, Paxton discovers Kana, who is being disfigured with a blow torch. Paxton rescues Kana and they flee in a stolen car, pursued by guards. While driving, Paxton runs over Natalya, Svetlana, and Alexei, killing them. While driving Paxton encounters the Gypsy delinquents and gives them candies and gum. The Gypsies attack and kill the men pursuing Paxton with concrete blocks.
The two make it to the train station. Kana, seeing her disfigured face, kills herself by leaping in front of an oncoming train. Paxton boards another train unnoticed. Aboard, Paxton hears the voice of the Dutch Businessman. When the train stops in Vienna, Austria, Paxton follows the Dutch Businessman into a public restroom and kills him before boarding another train.
In the Director's Cut, Paxton kidnaps the Dutch Businessman's daughter instead of killing him. After finding her teddy bear in the restroom she was supposed to be in, the Dutch Businessman searches for his missing daughter, unaware that Paxton's train has just left.
- Jay Hernandez as Paxton
- Derek Richardson as Josh
- Eyþór Guðjónsson as Óli
- Jennifer Lim as Kana
- Barbara Nedeljáková as Natalya
- Jana Kaderabkova as Svetlana
- Jan Vlasák as The Dutch Businessman
- Rick Hoffman as The American Client
- Keiko Seiko as Yuki
- Lubomir Bukovy as Alexei
- Jana Havlickova as Vala
- Petr Janiš as Johan, the German Surgeon
- Takashi Miike as The Japanese Sadist
- Patrik Zigo as The Bubblegum Gang Leader
- Milda "Jedi" Havlas as Desk Clerk Jedi
- Miroslav Táborský as Police officer
- Josef Bradna as The Butcher
- Eli Roth as American Stoner
After the release of Cabin Fever, Eli Roth was met with praise from several industry figures. One such person was Quentin Tarantino, who listed the film in his "top 10" of the year and immediately reached out to Roth and offered to produce his next feature film. Roth was offered to direct many studio films, mostly horror remakes such as The Last House on the Left, The Fog, and a film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, among several others, but turned them all down on advice from Tarantino, who suggested he make an original horror film. While swimming in Tarantino's pool, Roth brainstormed an idea for a low-budget horror film based on a Thai "murder vacation" website he came across on the internet. Tarantino loved the idea and encouraged Roth to immediately start writing a draft that day, which later formed the basis for Hostel.
Roth had originally debated creating the film in the style of a fake documentary that would incorporate real people and locations from supposed real underground "death vacation" spots. When little information could be found on the topic, the idea was scrapped in favor of a fictional flowing narrative. Principal photography took place in the Czech Republic, and many scenes were shot in Český Krumlov. The torture chamber scenes were filmed in the abandoned wing of an old Prague hospital.
Hostel opened theatrically on January 6, 2006, in the United States and earned $19.6 million in its first weekend, ranking number one in the box office. By the end of its run, six weeks later, the film grossed $47.3 million in the US box office and $33.3 million internationally for a worldwide total of $80.6 million.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 61% based on 108 reviews and a weighted average of 5.84/10. The site's consensus stating, "Featuring lots of guts and gore, Hostel is a wildly entertaining corpse-filled journey—assuming one is entertained by corpses, guts, and gore, that is." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 55 out of 100 based on 21 reviews.
Entertainment Weekly's film critic Owen Gleiberman commended the film's creativity, saying "You may or may not believe that slavering redneck psychos, of the kind who leer through Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, can be found in the Southwest, but it's all too easy to envision this sort of depravity in the former Soviet bloc, the crack-up of which has produced a brutal marketplace of capitalistic fiendishness. The torture scenes in Hostel (snipped toes, sliced ankles, pulled eyeballs) are not, in essence, much different from the surgical terrors in the Saw films, only Roth, by presenting his characters as victims of the same world of flesh-for-fantasy they were grooving on in the first place, digs deep into the nightmare of a society ruled by the profit of illicit desire."
The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw wrote that Hostel was "actually silly, crass and queasy. And not in a good way". David Edelstein of New York Magazine was equally negative, deriding director Roth with creating the horror subgenre "torture porn", or "gorno", using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act. Jean-François Rauger, a film critic for Le Monde, a French newspaper, and programmer of the Cinémathèque Française, listed Hostel as the best American film of 2006, calling it an example of modern consumerism. Hostel won the 2006 Empire Award for Best Horror Film.
Slovak reaction to setting
The film's release was accompanied by strong complaints from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Slovak and Czech officials were both disgusted and outraged by the film's portrayal of their countries as undeveloped, poor, and uncultured lands suffering from high criminality, war, and prostitution, fearing it would "damage the good reputation of Slovakia" and make foreigners feel it was a dangerous place to be. The tourist board of Slovakia invited Roth on an all-expenses-paid trip to their country so he could see it is not made up of run-down factories, ghettos, and kids who kill for bubble gum. Tomáš Galbavý, a Slovak Member of Parliament from the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party, commented: "I am offended by this film. I think that all Slovaks should feel offended."
Defending himself, Roth said the film was not meant to be offensive, arguing, "Americans do not even know that this country exists. My film is not a geographical work but aims to show Americans' ignorance of the world around them." Roth has repeatedly argued that despite the many films in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, people still travel to Texas.
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- Peter Bradshaw: "Hostel" review, at Guardian Unlimited
- David Edelstein: Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn, at New York Magazine, published on January 28th, 2006.
- Jean Francois Rauger (December 27, 2006). "Les films préférés des critiques du "Monde" en 2006". Le Monde (accessed with Google Translate). Retrieved May 13, 2009.
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- "Hostel: April 2006 Archives".
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