From Forum With No Name:
Hostel--eh. If you look at it from a shocker or gross-out level, it isn't as lovingly detailed or beautifully imagined as, say, an Argento or a Fulci. If you look at it from a storytelling level, big mistake turning these American kids into such hopeless dorks--you basically chortle when they're finally captured and tortured (after a fairly boring first hour), and there's no suspense or tension in that.
More, if that's basically a private club catering to those into torture and sadism, it's not a very convincing or very well-run one. Capturing an American tourist is a chancy proposition I imagine; I can't believe they can just grab one after another without either word leaking out or someone uncovering them. Roth's mistake is not so much in the idea of going after Americans as it is in not carefully considering the consequences--that this should be a strictly mobile operation (so it's harder to detect or track down a moving target), that the prices should be much higher, that the torture of an American should be an arena event, not the private locked-door pleasure of some amateur moron with a chainsaw (how unimaginative). A little role-playing would be appreciated too.
If you look at it from a political level--well, that's where the real repugnance lies: the film panders to American xenophobia, to American fears that the world outside hates them, and wants to do them grevious bodily harm (as if 'bodily' was the worst kind of harm). When the American escapes, it's by learning how to do it the way these decadent Europeans do--to do it to them first, and to do it to them harder; we're treated to all those scenes of torture so when retribution comes, the catharthic sense of vengeance is sweeter.
Which is fine in theory--a sort of horrorshow retelling of Bush's response to 9/11--but the film seems to be suggesting that this is a good thing, that the survivor has retained his humanity despite all that's happened to him, indulging only in one fairly quick vengeance killing in a train station men's room for our satisfaction. Bullshit. I like the original ending better with its darker implications, suggesting that the American has become what it fears the most.
Chris J: I honestly don't believe the film deserves that level of critical analysis in terms of Bush's 911 etc. There's nothing in the quality of the script or the movie to suggest such a thing. It's lousy on several levels but has an interesting idea that could have been developed into something quite interesting (as you point out in pretending there is something in the movie that isn't actually there or earned anyway).
We have problems right away when we're shown the dorks... the first guy to get nabbed is the older European character... not one of the two Americans. Their entire focus is on getting laid.. period.. and it's done like a very bad erotic film from the late 60s or 70s... We are supposed to consider them idiots and deserving of torture and death because the Boys just wanna have fun. The script treats women horribly of course... but the women wind up tricking the boys and are in on getting them captured and tortured... which makes them cruel accomplices and full blown blood thirsty conniving bitches... isn't that lovely....
when a couple of them get run over... I like how the guy is on the run and takes the time to go back and run over one of them again to make sure they are squashed...
I had heard this movie was a decent gross out kind of gore film.. better than most that came out in the last few years.. and that's utter bullshit... but there's people out there defending this attrocious film.
Nah, the 9/11 interpretation is only my lame attempt to cut them some slack, to try (for a moment anyway) to take them seriously, on what I thought were their own terms; but since the political angle doesn't fly (and I agree with you that it doesn't), the movie's every bit as bad as you say, if not worse.
Red Stick Lady: I tend to stay away from the slasher flicks. I don't find bloody and gross to be scary, just...gross.
Hostel's a bore. Drilled this, slashed that, yawn.