Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hostel Reactions

Maybe it was the trailer, or Ain't It Cool News calling it "the scariest American movie in a decade," or the Post's "Family Filmgoer" column warning that the movie contains "Grossly violent scenes that show or imply the hacking off or slashing of body parts; evisceration of corpses; arms, legs shoved into furnace; gun violence; explicit sexual situations; nudity; profanity; drugs; drinking, smoking" (yes, smoking!). Either way, I knew I just had to see Hostel. How bad could it be?

Now I've seen my share of horror flicks and read through a couple issues of Fangoria. I remember as a kid being horrified by the "accidents" occurring in The Omen II (the boy trapped beneath the ice, the woman who got her eye gouged out by a crow and then ran smack into a truck). Thanks to cable, I am now totally desensitized. But still, I wondered, could this new movie, which has now grossed more than $36 million in two weeks, get the better of me?

The answer is, alas, sort of. Here is what I learned: Beware of Eastern Europe. And be especially careful when traveling to Slovakia, a terrible and evil kingdom of darkness. For in the countryside there is a hostel where beautiful women lure you with sex, drugs, and drinks (and smoking!), and suddenly you wake up not in the loving arms of Natasha but hooded and handcuffed to a bolted-down chair in a dank cellar. And some man has paid good money to torture you in the worst possible ways.

You're led to believe one of the backpackers is the main character and so, when he finds himself strapped down, you keep telling yourself it'll be okay, he'll live. He doesn't.

Are there scenes I would consider unnerving? Yes. (Squeamish readers, please skip to the next paragraph.) One poor guy has his shoulders and knees bored into with a power drill. His Achilles' tendons are then sliced by a scalpel. That, for my matinee money, was the most disturbing scene. And then there is the woman whose eyeball dangles out and gets it snipped, resulting in a seepage of vitreous fluid. After a while, however, it just looked like she had a Personal Pan Pizza on half her face. Now that, I told Galley friend Mike Woody, was crossing the line! (For some reason, both our wives think we're deranged for seeing this film.)

"There's not much of a plot, is there?" asked Mike. I told him I disagreed. The plot is How to Escape Hostel and Never Return to Eastern Europe.

My wife has lovely memories of Slovakia and is upset the movie takes place there. She spent a year in a sleepy town just north of Bratislava. In fact, it very much resembles the one featured in Hostel. She taught English at the local university.

Or at least that's what she tells me...


miklos rosza said...

It's funny how in the original Texas Chainsaw Masssacre, most of it was left up to your imagination. Each sequel or redo was less scary while featuring more blood and gore.

My sense of chimpanzees' sense of humor is that they too in a ritualized setting might like to be scared (while safe), releasing themselves in laughter afterwards.

But I'm just guessing (projecting?) with the chimps.

Dean Barnett said...

I must see this film!!!

Anonymous said...

Films like this (pretty much any film with Quentin Tarantino involved)make me ill. I have never been able to find entertainment value in bestial human suffering, even though it's fake. The most disturbing aspect of this type of movie is that somewhere a writer is concocting these gruesome crimes repeatedly in their head. I believe it really does damage (desensitize or whatever you what to call it)the human mind to observe this kind of thing.

Chilly Palmer said...

I saw Eli Roth interviewed on Fox News and was shocked by his breezy attitude toward toward the level of violence in this movie. He thinks it's funny; even described the film as a good "date movie". Personally, I fear a generation of people who think that depictions of heinous torture is entertainment.

lemuel said...

In Slovakia we are not amused, naturally.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of achilles tendon slicing, Fred Gwynne in Pet Sematary was the best, followed by the scalpel slash across the corners of his mouth.

Dental work is the best, particularly if you have the best Shakespearean actor of the 20th century doing the drilling.

Jason O.

miklos rosza said...

"Marathon Man," yes. Who could not squirm watching that?