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Traveling buddies Paxton, Josh and Oli are backpacking across Europe. From smoking pot with strangers to frequenting Amsterdam sex shows, these hedonists are on a continual search for the next greatest carnal indulgence. So when they get a tip that Slovakian women will fulfill any desire—off they go.
At first their excursion lives up to the hype. Paxton and Josh waste no time hopping into bed with two ready-and-willing locals. But the carousing mood is dampened the next morning when Oli is nowhere to be found. Then Josh goes missing the following day. There doesn't seem to be much that Paxton can do about it, though. Especially after he's apprehended and thrown into the middle of a twisted game of torture.
Paxton risks his life by returning to the torture chambers to save a screaming woman.
Hostel comes in two parts: Act one, which comprises the first third of the movie, is all about sex, drugs and, well, more sex. Days after seeing the film, I'm still wondering how it didn't get slapped with an NC-17 rating, because it pretends to be a porn flick for the first 45 minutes. At least four different couples are shown having sex in extended scenes, complete with sounds and motions. Paxton and Josh have sex with women in front of each other. Pornographic movies and pictures (including a lesbian orgy) get screen time. At a sex club, the shadowed outlines of a threesome show a woman giving oral sex. Women lounge naked in a spa. Breast nudity is prominent throughout, as the camera makes sure to "study" every undressed female.
Various characters offer a barrage of bestiality, necrophilia, rape, homosexuality and oral sex comments. The male and female anatomies are discussed in graphic detail, as are sex "tips." A man frequently talks about his genitalia and moons his buddies more than once.
If the first act is all about sex, act two's theme is all gore, all the time. Following in the footsteps of mentor Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction), director Eli Roth spares viewers nothing when it comes to showing gratuitous, over-the-top, blood-soaked violence. The camera zooms in when a torturer drills into the flesh of a victim. Various body parts (including feet and an entire torso) are severed with knives, chainsaws, claws, shears and other grisly looking instruments. They're also hauled in by the bucketful, chopped up by a body butcher and thrown in a furnace. As for fully intact corpses, they're skinned, hanged, charred and/or mutilated. The unlucky few who remain alive are bound and gagged as they endure yet more torture.
To "ease the pain" of a woman who's had her eye burned out with a Bunsen burner (yes, that's shown too), Paxton snips off her dangling organ in an especially nauseating sequence. A woman commits suicide by throwing herself in front of an approaching train, and her body is ripped apart as blood splatters on bystanders. Another woman gets graphically run over by a car.
A group of children throw rocks at men's heads, then pummel one adult's skull with a sledgehammer. (It's shown getting crushed.) We see a man "operating" on Josh's sliced-open body. Paxton whacks a man in the face with a hammer and shoots other would-be assailants in the head. He also slices a man's neck with a blade after cutting off his fingers and almost drowning him. Paxton and Josh both throw up violently.
Crude or Profane Language
The f-word is pervasive, appearing in every form and fashion more than 100 times. The s-word gets used more than two-dozen times, while a barrage of various vulgar sexual terms and crudities douse moviegoers throughout. God's and Jesus' names are profaned.
Drug and Alcohol Content
While in Amsterdam, Paxton, Josh and Oli visit a shop in which they inhale pot while talking about a variety of other drugs. (Drug paraphernalia is shown.) Hard liquor gets loads of screen time through various club scenes and party scenes, and Josh ends up spending the night in a storage room full of beer. Several characters puff away on cigarettes. Paxton and Josh's two female friends drug them, and the camera shows us their hallucinations.
Other Negative Elements
Is it possible to include an entire movie in this category? Indeed, the sick, perverted premise of Hostel features a clandestine operation in which businessmen pay megabucks to torture kidnapped victims. As if this concept weren't bad enough, viewers are forced to listen to a paying customer rant and rave about how torturing is a rush greater than all the "meaningless sex" in the world, and how he wants to "feel" his victim's pain while inflicting more. Though Paxton seems to abhor the secret society and its practices, his final showdown includes inflicting the same cold-blooded pain on a torturer.
Roth got the idea for Hostel from a Web site he happened to stumble across. Though never validated, the site spoke of a place in Thailand where foreign businessmen could pay $10,000 or more to shoot a local person in the head—and the money would then go to that willing victim's family. Roth was captivated with the warped notion that individuals could be so numb to the "ordinary" vices of sex and drugs that they'd resort to inflicting extreme torture upon someone else as their next high.
The result of his twisted fascination is grotesquely misshapen and transparently gratuitous. Roth gushes, "The movie's f---ing sick! It'll leave you more nauseous than Yours, Mine & Ours." Sorry, Mr. Tarantino-in-Waiting. Not even a lame wisecrack can warm up or soften the cold, hard fact that people treating your movie as entertainment is anything but a laughing matter.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jay Hernandez as Paxton; Derek Richardson as Josh; Barbara Nedeljakova as Natalya; Jana Kaderabkova as Svetlana; Eythor Gudjonsson as Oli; Jan Vlasák as The Dutch Businessman