Hostel (2005)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Hostel</strong> (2005)

(On DVD, December 2015) Given my reluctance to even acknowledge the existence of a sub-genre as noxious and nauseating as torture horror, I had deep misgivings about watching sub-genre exemplar Hostel.  But there it was on my list of essential movies I’d missed, so I checked my expectations at the door and dared to enter.  To my surprise, Hostel is a bit more interesting than I expected it to be.  While the first half of the film certainly plays to expectations (three American tourists are tempted to visit an eastern European town, where they are abducted and used as raw bodies for sadistic rich men paying for the privilege of torturing and killing someone else), the second half of the film is a bit twistier, leading to a conclusion where we’re asked to re-evaluate our sympathies for the protagonist.  I’m not a bit fan of writer/director Eli Roth, but he does well here, and it’s no accident if Hostel remains his best-known film.  There’s nihilism and gore and torture aplenty, but there is also something else; a bit of suspense, a few good set-pieces and an effective sense of dread.  It is torture horror in the grossest sense, but it’s also more than that, and it’s that extra bit more that distinguishes the film.  I’m still not entirely pleased of having paid for the film (even at bargain-bin prices), but I’m not entirely embarrassed by it either, and that’s probably the best I could ask for given Hostel’s subject matter. 

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