“Hostel” The Review
Please do not see this film. Do not pay any money to view it in any form, and unless Quentin Tarantino personally offers you cash money to sit through it, avoid this film like the plague.
You may be thinking that I am the type who’s offended by films offering gratuitous violence as entertainment, but you’d be wrong. I admit that I have to view these types of films with a detachment that allows me to view them from afar and not actually enjoy the severed heads and bloodletting and abundant gore as if they’re no more or less disgusting than watching a film starring Julia Roberts and her enormous mouth. I find the idea that we as a society can rate a film that depicts live dismemberment and facial blowtorching as “restricted” with a recommendation that children be accompanied by an adult who could place the images into some sort of context, like “oh, this only happens when you’re late with a paper in college,” but that films showing actual, uncovered male genitalia in a state of excitement as unfit for anyone under a certain age at all more sickening than anything a special effects team can compose out of pig intestines and gallons of red syrup.
“Hostel,” which is executive produced and being sold under the auspices of Mr. Tarantino’s name and reputation, is a very bad movie. The first unforgivable sin is that it promises to be the gross-out movie of early 2006, knowing fully that Lion’s Gate Film can pump these things out with the regularity of a rabbit in springtime, and then it spends half its time as a boring documentary about how stupid Americans abroad are and the relative ease with which one can find marijuana in Amsterdam. Additionally, it attempts to set up as a hero a homophobic misogynist whom we are hoping from at least the second reel will meet his demise in the most painful manner imaginable.
Let me set this up for you just a little, even though a discussion of “Hostel’s” plotline and characters are unnecessary in the extreme. We have two post-collegiate, pre-legal jerk-offs backpacking around Europe with their dad, or someone they met in Paris, one or the other. Anyway, he’s an old guy who likes to draw faces on his ass and delights in educating everyone around him what a big jerk he is. The two Americans, whose names are never important to any extent, have but one goal in life and that is pussy and lots of it.
Oh, except that one of them just had a break-up and may or may not be gay. He probably is gay since he dies before the violently heterosexual member of the party. Anyway, at some point they get locked out of their hostel (though not, at that point, the Hostel) because they’re loud-mouthed cretinous jerk-off moronic idiots and are rescued from being rightfully pummeled with bottles by a wormy albino Russian who tells them that if they’re looking for fabulous pussy, the place to be is Bratislava in Slovakia, and if you’re thinking as I am that this picture has been partially subsidized by the Bratislavan Tourism Board, you’ll be rethinking that assessment by the film’s end, which is unfortunately about another four hours away.
So our intrepid trio says goodbye to the west and boards a train, travelling into the land unveiled behind the Iron Curtain where beavers are plentiful and any man, no matter to what degree he may be a bastard with no charm or intelligence or table manners — oh, wait, actually table manners is an important plot point! — anyway, the Slovakian women are so hot and desperate that they welcome with open legs even the grossest, stupidest, most annoying men on Earth, which is incredibly good news for these three guys in particular.
Table manners comes into play on that train as the creeps are joined in their train cabin by a man with a salad. We shortly learn that the man likes to eat with his hands, which, of all things, greatly offends Our Hero the homophobe, not to mention that he is, he reports, a vegetarian as if this is a redeeming virtue at this point in the movie. The man places his hand on the Other Guy’s leg (the Other Guy being not the homophobic Hero nor the dad with the ass face complex) foreshadowing something pretentious which we, the audience, could hardly care less about because, you know, when’s the mutilation going to start?
Upon arrival in Bratislava, our trio unfortunately doesn’t die immediately and spends yet another 30 minutes seducing two of the most easily seduced women and never for a minute wonder how three such huge losers could possibly score with them. We in the audience have our fingers crossed that finally someone’s going to be killed and we’re rooting for some of the most gruesome footage ever to be shone on a movie screen because we absolutely, positively hate everyone we’ve met so far.
The next morning, dad and his ass have checked out and a Japanese girl runs up to jabber some broken English at the remaining two intensely dislikable fucktoids that her friend and their friend have sent her a picture that shows them together in front of a smokestack. We figure out that this must mean something, then promptly forget it because our ass hurts so much from sitting in the theatre for hours on end waiting for something interesting to finally occur.
There’s some wandering around, some mistaking a guy in a red jacket for Dad, a visit to a torture museum that uses a miniature guillotine to tear the tickets in half — to this point, the most violent act in the film — and then another date with the Two Hot Chicks, roofies are finally dropped in drinks, and at last we are comforted in the feeling that something will at last happen to justify the $10.50 admission price.
Unfortunately, if you were rooting for The Other Guy and that Homophobic Hero would meet his justified demise, you’ll be just as disappointed as I was. The Other Guy awakens in a dark room filled with various bladed and electrified implements and starts losing his shit when the Salad Guy with the wandering hands comes in and tries to be even creepier than he was on the train, but let’s face it, eating a take-out salad with your fingers is just about as gross as you can get, and even when he power drills a few holes in The Other Guy, we’re all rooting for Salad Man anyway.
There is one groan-inducing gasp that occurs here that I’ll spoil by saying that Salad Man severs The Other Guy’s achilles tendons and then invites him to stand up and leave. While I might have put on some New Order and instructed him to try to dance while holding a machete, apparently I am much more imaginative that this movie.
Salad Man offs The Other Guy by cutting his throat all too quickly (yawn) and I am sitting there thinking, ‘Man, he had all those cool things to choose from and that’s it? Evil Salad Man, thou art a pussy.’
Two down, one to go. Please let it end quickly, my bladder is telling me, but of course that’s not going to happen. There’s more wandering, a lost cell phone, a sub-plot about child thieves who want, of all things, bubblegum rather than, you know, like money or something, and Homophobe Hero decides that he and Japanese Chick will leave on the next train together, the end. Instead, he encounters the two Hot Chicks in a bar and they tell him his friend The Other Guy went to an art exhibit and if he’d like to go, they’ll take him. He starts yelling which causes the colorful locals getting drunk to look up and register that, wow, what an asshole, until they take him to the middle of the middle of nowhere that turns out to be a large, bombed-out building and not a Hostel at all. Gypped again!
She tells him where the art is, he wanders up a corridor and encounters Salad Man poking around in the open chest cavity of some anonymous corpse, who is actually providing the most believable performance of the film. While this freaks him the shit out, I’m just thinking “Didn’t I see that operation on the Discovery Channel last week?” He starts to run but two burly, balding leathermen grab him by the arms and handcuff him to a chair without kicking the shit out of him, unaware apparently that he fully deserves whatever comes next, and we in the audience heave a collective sigh in hopes that at last something will happen to someone and we’ll actually enjoy watching it.
What happens instead is that the film suddenly realizes it’s actually a comedy poorly disguised as a slasher film. First, the German assailant has a thing about scissors and, oh my God, cuts off some of HH’s hair! “Please,” we hear him say, “don’t give me a gay haircut!” but no, it’s only our own imagination providing some sparkling dialog before Homophobe Hero’s would-be killer slips in a puddle of blood, tossing the chainsaw he had been holding and, Three Stooges-like, manages to cut off his own leg. Hilarity ensues!
HH escapes from his manacles, grabs a gun and shoots the poor German in the head to a reaction of “Boo!” from the tortured audience and then there’s a lengthy and tiresome sequence of him attempting to find his way out of the murderous labyrinth. Finding himself at last in the locker room, he has a conversation with a poor, jaded American businessman who is pondering one of life’s many mysteries: Should I kill my victim fast, or slow? Whoever he is, we’re thankful for his cameo appearence which is providing the only exciting characterization of the entire film. Kudo, crazy American businessman!
Sensing we’re finally nearing the end and realizing now that this guy’s actually going to live through the movie much to our annoyance and frustration, the best is yet to come. Because on the verge of escaping, having found an unattended Communist car with the keys conveniently inside, he hears the screams of who he somehow realizes is that annoying Japanese girl he was supposed to have a train date with. Thinking he’s finally going to get some Asian pussy, he abandons his escape to go back into the building where he finds the crazy American businessman blowtorching her face. At least someone in this move is a little creative!
Shooting him in the head, too, it’s revealed that Japanese girl’s right eye is hanging out of its socket like a yoyo and she’s screaming a lot. “What do you want me to do?” he asks her, and I’m not making that up. “I can’t understand you, what do you want me to do?” Translating her banshee screams as “Could you please take some scissors and sort of cut my eye off? My bad eye, not my good eye. I still want my good eye.” He does so, and the audience reacts as it appears that Japanese girls’ heads are apparently filled with Grey Poupon.
Okay, so, they get out, there’s a chase, he runs down the Two Hot Chicks who are, for some reason, standing in the middle of the road talking with each other, pays the children thieves with a bag of Hershey’s Special Dark bite-size Halloween candy and asks them to please stop the car chasing them and beat the driver and passenger’s heads in with rocks — which they do, of course, because they’re kids — and makes it to the train station with his hot Asian action more or less intact.
Only, irony of ironies, she sees a reflection of herself in an ad and, deciding that it was very sweet of him to cut her eye off for her but, really, what a nuisance to go through life like that, she jumps in front of an oncoming train and splatters the onlookers with what appears to be chocolate syrup, reinforcing the idea that nubile Japanese girls are filled with deliciousness.
With only one loose-end left, our Hero has the fortune of boarding the exact same train, indeed the exact same train car, as Salad Man, who is again regaling his fellow passengers with the joys of eating with your hands. Thinking “enough is enough,” HH follows Salad Man into the men’s room where he tries to sell him several magazine subscriptions until the man can take no more and drowns himself in the toilet.
At that point, the audience can take no more, either, but thankfully this endless movie is finally over and we are allowed at last to rise from our seats, comforted in the knowledge that we neither live in Bratislava where people are so bored by life that they allow themselves to be tortured to death by German hairstylists, bored American businessmen and men with salad fetishes, nor are we filled with rich and tasty desert toppings or hot dog condiments. Thank you, Quentin! Now off to Slavakia with you!
January 8, 2006