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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hostel



I'm not a fan of the horror genre.

I don't mind blood, gore and special effects, it's just as a genre there's usually not a lot of good writing in these types of films. Lots of the audience enjoyment in watching horror films is to see characters acting stupid, naive, and making frustrating mistakes. These movies always seem to go out of their way to make the viewer feel ten times smarter than the characters they are watching. The truth is when I watch movies, in general, I like to be challenged, entertained, and inspired.

So....not a good match.

There has been exceptions like the movies Scream, Exorcist, and the Ring. But in general, frankly horror films bore me. I don't even bother watching them. I don't get entertained or scared by these movies at all because I can't suspend my disbelief while watching, and just let myself get taken in to the movie's world. I usually start thinking about what an actor is using as a sense memory when they're scared, or how silly they look trying to act scared when they are so obviously not in any real danger, just actors doing a silly horror movie.

But there's been a lot of buzz surrounding this particular film, it even has Quentin Tarantino's seal of approval, so I thought with my busy schedule I'd take in this quick flick.

The set up is pretty standard Horror genre stuff. Three young college students are out looking to get laid, and they happen to be in a strange, unfamiliar place. In this case it happens to be Eastern Europe.

Without spoiling the film I'll just say that things go bad for the trio.....deathly bad.

What I enjoyed about the movie is that it felt confident enough to set up an actual story, and flesh out the characters more than most horror films. Usually in these flicks, in the first 10 seconds of the movie a character dies....just for the fun of it. But this movie started off a lot like Eurotrip. There was these horny guys getting wasted, with lots of naked attractive ladies milling around. The movie takes the time to give us some affable protagonists that we can relate to, and we can actually sympathize with when the shit hits the fan. Most notably, Jay Hernandez from Friday Night Lights does a solid job of giving us a character who doesn't annoy us too much, is not stupid, and keeps things relatively realistic.

I've heard that some people wanted more action in the beginning, I've even heard people who've come into my job say that the beginning really dragged. Which is kind of ridiculous considering the film clocks in at a fast moving 95 minutes.

But I guess different strokes.....

In any case, when the violence does occur in the film there is plenty of it. Actually there is lots of blood, guts, and torture to go around for two movies. Under the direction of Eli Roth, who directed the very uneven, yet strangely likeable Cabin Fever, the violence comes fast, furious, and impressively original.

I once saw in a documentary about the Godfather films that Francis Ford Coppola hates violence, he hates watching it, and hates filming it. But he realizes the important dramatic purpose they play in films and stories, so when he does do violence, he doesn't hold back...at all, and he tries to do it in an interesting, and original way to make the event unique, disturbing and not gratuitous.

It's obvious Roth comes from that same school of thinking. Roth is obviously not shy about violence, but when it happens he wants to make it original, memorable and worth sharing. He even takes it to the next level and makes it morbidly fun to watch. There was several times in the film that I let out a mischievous laugh while watching a disturbing scene.

I'm....not....sure what that says about me ...but hey.

In any case, I recommend watching the movie. There is some fun action pieces, some interesting locales, fun characters, and a relatively believable, captivating set-up for horror and creepiness. I admit at the end, the movie gets a little silly when it REALLY plays up the violence to the point that it becomes a celebration of gore, but I admit I got taken in and enjoyed myself, although I never got scared or spooked at all by the film.

But I think it says a lot that I didn't get bored by the movie. People who are looking for a good horror movie, and aren't as cynical as myself are sure to love the flick.

The movie arrives on DVD April 18th.



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1 comment:

Lons said...

Well, I love horror movies, and what I dug about "Hostel" was how it feels like a throwback without ever turning to camp or homage. It's not specifically referencing a certain movie or era. It's just a really fun, entertaining, gleefully violent movie that feels like a relic from a bygone era, when horror filmmaking wasn't exclusively designed to appeal to 13 year old male Video iPod owners.