Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hostel (2005, Eli Roth)

Starts off with a pretty potent premise, seemingly cribbed from travelers' urban legends- American backpackers get seduced by hot European chicks only to find themselves caught in a torture-by-the-highest-bidder ring. But what might in other hands be a good way of milking the ugly-Americans-abroad archetype instead turns into little more than a lot of fake blood and gore makeup. The big problem is Roth, who (a) isn't director enough to make this thing atmospheric, stylish, or even, y'know, scary, and (b) can't be bothered to keep his cheesedick tendencies in check. It's not even clear that he really wants the audience to be scared, really- more than he grooves on the geek factor of showing lingering closeups of a principal characters slashed Achilles' tendons or a girl with an eye hanging out of its socket. Plus he forgets to give us an identification figure- we see most of the action through Jay Hernandez's eyes, but he's not compelling or sympathetic to really care much. Honestly, I'm inclined to believe that Roth identifies most with the Rick Hoffman character, a vulgar American would-be torturer who can't contain his excitement about getting in on the torture. Overall, it's juvenile, a little boring and just kind of sad. Rating: 3 out of 10.

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