Europeans. What a buncha scraggy-jawed whisky-gummed devil-cocked maniacs. What a hive a deplorable backwards scummery that ol’ Europe truly is. Look at them there, wi their trees an their fields an their streets all ash-grey pavilions an passageways. Look at them all shaven-headed an sneerin, all high on the “drugs” or soaked wi the “sex”. Look at them, all rural even in the densest cosmopolitan sweeps.
Look at those filthy Europeans, murderin’ an slaughterin’ an sexin’ out wedlock.
So says Hostel, bein Eli Roth’s follow-up to the immeasurably more fun Cabin Fever, so says this opus a torture an depravity an toes bein crushed wi pliers.
That it’s exceptionally good, fantastic even, well, done nulled a fair ol’ chunk a the xenophobic rantin right there.
A good horror flick, y’unnerstann, can gleefully present the kinda vile stereotypes an offensive representations scarcely no other genre can get away with.
Gon’ play on all those fears you got regardin havin the eyes plucked out your face by way o’ a cheeky solderin iron, yes, but also, look at these other fears gon’ slap you upside the shit-myself-glands. Fear of other cultures an religions, fear of the rural dispossessed, fear of lonely people an fear of society in general.
Horror flicks get away wi it all, on account of if they’re good, ain’t no one gon’ have time to notice the potentially rancid nature of the ideological shenanigans, an also, chances are there’s gon’ be some play goin on that forces a fella to ask why these things scare him, anyroad? Just what kinda vile fuck might you be, oh western viewer sat there all smug front the TV size o’ a council estate an the gut from here t’Pluto?
So Deliverance says aye, you’re scared a these demented hillbilly banjo-pluckin arse-degraders, but how much a that buck-yapped sneer might you yourself be responsible for?
So Cannibal Holocaust says oh jimminy-fucks, look at these big ol’ brown faced monsters, but who’s to blame for the deplorable gut-shreddin antics in the final act? An who’s scarier, the natives or the madmen unmistakably stinkin o’ us?
An so on an so forth.
An so to Hostel, bein the subject an the title an the very pulsin balls a this highly confrontational word-wank.
Past couple years, y’unnerstann, Hollywood been goin out its fuck-flecked skull-mush tryin t’keep up wi those crazy Asian cats. Turns out folks are all the keen in the world for to go catch a picture concerns a woman done died in the fuckin face way back when, an now there she is, crawlin down the stairs all jerk-limbed an freaky eyeballs.
By the ragged knees a Moses, say yonder writers an directors an miscellaneous, best we get in on that ol’ freaky chink dollar, best we make a buncha flicks look an feel just like one a those oriental scare-pics.
So we get the remakes, The Ring, The Ring 2, The Grudge, Dark Water an the like, we get the pictures all keen on replicatin some a that eerie ol’ mood whilst utilisin a screenplay wi some semblance o’ originality, your White Noise for example, yes.
But in the rush for to bombard the viewin public wi the ghosties an the ghoulies an the shivers in the innards been integral to the Asian ghost flick for as long as anyone cares to remember, certainly far back as your Kwaidan an Onibaba, folks done missed another strand a Asian horror every bit as alien to mainstream western audiences.
The soul-scarrin chaos-coated eye-meltin extreme horror that most times ain’t got a damn thing to do with ghosts or ladies wi long black hair crawlin out mobile phones for to fuck you upside the teeth wi terror. The flicks that maybe involve Character A meets Character B, takes them home an cuts their limbs off over a rain-lashed weekend in Autumn.
Hostel, far as I can tell, is the first mainstream American horror flick that takes as its cue these kindsa monstrosities, complete with Takashi Miike cameo.
It reeks of Flower Of Flesh And Blood, of Evil Dead Trap, of Audition. It’s a seedy, disturbing, claustrophobic, dark as all fuck piece a work that ain’t got none a the comic rascality a Cabin Fever hangin round the corners a the frames. It ain’t at all miffed bout havin an eyeball cut out wi scissors, havin the backs a the heels sawed at wi blades, havin heads caved in wi sickenin attention to detail.
Course, there’s more goin on than a loada sadistic torture porn, an ain’t much really graphic appearin till well after the fifty minute mark, an even then in fairly short bursts, but still, kinda shit lingers in the head-space for a day or two after.
Harry Knowles, who played some part in the gestation a the whole affair, he nailed it pretty spot-on as Gore Noir. What it is, is your traditional shit’s goin on an our fella up front ain’t got a damn clue what it might be, cept that there’s ladies involved an a whole lotta sexin.
Buncha lads take time out from the ol’ college business for to go backpackin round Europe, end up screwin themselves in five round the blue-light brothels a Amsterdam. Soon enough they get pointed t’wards a Hostel in Slovakia, kinda place where a fella flushes the shitter an finds seventy-three nubile ladies arriving in the down-stream. Kinda place three young rapscallions wi three tonnes a fuck boilin in the balls might surely get a kick or nine round about the spunk-spray.
Once there, sure enough, turns out they’re sharing a room wi the kindsa ladies want nothin more than to disrobe an lounge around in saunas makin sex-me gestures wi the knees.
Hells fire, however, oh fuck, look here, done got laid up splendid, an now friends are disappearin, where they goin, tell me now, what’s goin on in this crazy European fuck-shack where gangs a pre-teen kids wander the streets threatenin to cut tongues out lest they get the price o’ a packet a sweets?
What’s goin on, brother brother, ain’t nothin less than a buncha fucked up fuck-up.
Turns out there’s an organization by the name of Elite Hunting who, for the kinda price means ain’t none a those gap-toothed bags a rabies out front gon’ be involved, will set you in a room wi a live person of your particular preference, an let you carve, stab, slash, slice, poke an eventually kill them stone dead.
What Hostel wants to do for to disturb the eyes out face ain’t so much in the close-up torture, no, what it wants to do is present the kindsa arguments for these sortsa activities makes a fella fairly heavy round the puke-pipes.
We meet a fella spent best part a his adult life careerin round brothels an back-streets shaggin himself bald, no end a sloppy hoo-hah he’s been wrapped round, an yet oh how jaded he’s become. So now he’s gon’ try this business, wants that rush he imagines can be found nowhere else cept in the last breath o’ a human bein died at his hands. Or his gun. Or his chainsaw. Or his scissors.
What’s terrifyin an unsettlin an far from pleasant is how plausible it is. Maniacs wi no qualms about murder, they’re out there, ain’t at all far from a fellas gaze. If’n the thought a getting caught for their wretched actions is taken out the equation, what the fuck would stop them?
Aye, t’is enough to give a sleepless night or nine long after your woman crawlin backwards down the stairs has been all sortsa forgotten.
Horror flicks are supposed to make you think, y’unnerstann, ain’t no such thing as a brainless slasher or whatever the hell else folks sneerin at the multiplex might banter about of an evening. All sortsa human concerns get analyzed an dissected an most likely stabbed in the back a the teeth. Lot a times they end up bein reassuring, if for no other reason than how deplorable we know such behavior to be, your slashin an slayin an slaughterin. We know what’s right an wrong an there it is, even when the chainsaw-flingin madman becomes some sorta antihero, even then we know where the moral lines are.
What Hostel does is it says aye, we know, an pat yourself on the nuts for that, but not everyone does. Look here, folks you see on the train every day, folks you pass on the way to the pub, folks you maybe sit beside in church. Look what they’d do, if they could.
So what of those crazy Europeans? For sure, t’is a smart move on Roth’s behalf, set it all someplace alien an remote an unknowable to the majority a the audience, play on those fears Tobe Hooper an Wes Craven an countless others done toyed with way back when. Make the geography much of a monster as anythin else. What terrifies, mind, is that whilst the notion of an establishment such as your Hostel existin down the road seems all sortsa far-fetched, the question remains – If it did, just how well would it do?
It ain’t a whole big bag a perfect, the extended rompery a the first act is all sortsa tryin, an as a whole it ain’t nowhere near as terrifyin as it thinks it is, but dig this shit, on account of it’s one a your Sum Greater Than The Bits What Go Together For To Make The Sum Mentioned Earlier or whatever the hell.
It’s disturbin an thought-provokin an unflinchin, but it’s also an excellent example a that Gore Noir Knowles yacks about, kinda thing you maybe caught sight of in Angel Heart way back when. Course, Angel Heart was unpleasant an sickenin wi nothin goin on behind the eyes for to justify it. Hostel has stuff goin on, too much stuff almost. Gimmie a second for to snigger at a joke about an old man an his homies, for the love a fuck, but no. Ain’t no jokes, or none that a man might enjoy ‘thout the threat of a ruptured windpipe hangin o’er the punchline.
Ain’t much of the kinda flick I wanna be watchin again any time soon, but brave an intelligent an excitin, regardless.
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