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January 24th, 2006


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11:42 pm - Hostel
This evening Ellen and I went to see Hostel. It was one o' them things where we had to schedule around our jobs, so I had to leave work fifteen minutes early and get to the theater as soon as I could. There might have been other days when scheduling would have been easier, but I had two coupons good for cheap movie tickets, and this was the only night they were good that I was free.

So Hostel. I'm not sure what I thought of it.

If you've seen the trailer, you pretty much know the movie's secrets.

The plot: Two American students are vacationing in Europe and staying in hostels, which (in case you hadn't picked up on it) is where the title of the movie comes from. The first half of the film (maybe slightly less) is booze and drugs and T&A and all the things American kids go to Europe for in movies. Their quest for 'tang (not the drink) takes the students on a detour to Bratislava, where they end up being brutally tortured. I've skipped a big chunk of plot there, but suffice to say that the events in the film are feasibly explained.

Hostel is a horrific movie.

I mean, it was fun and it was fake which puts it miles above the films of Nazi war atrocities we all watched in World Affairs class in high school, but Hostel is a movie designed to push your buttons. There are no good guys in the movie, and while I didn't actively hate the protagonists, I don't think I was supposed to really like them. There's a fair amount of bigotry and betrayal, and of course there's the torture, which is the most meticulously composed violence I've ever seen. If you couldn't sit through Dead Alive, you can't sit through Hostel. This is the only place where you'll ever see the names of those movies side by side, but I'd say the gross-out factor is comparable.

I guess my point is that it's well made, but it's a well-made movie that exists only to make you feel stuff for 95 minutes. It's self-contained and won't provoke any serious discussions beyond "Could we maybe vacation in Greece instead?" On the other hand, it's opulent in its own way, and it's clear that writer/director Eli Roth understands his medium and how it works. I'm afraid that this movie won't get the praise it deserves because the audience that would really appreciate it is so small, which is why Quentin Tarantino's name being plastered all over the marketing campaign. People will go because they like QT, but he's the producer and it's not the sort of snappy actionfest we expect from him. Hostel is a brutal, gruelling movie, with little escapism. I wonder if cramming as much nudity as possible into the first half of the film wasn't a marketing strategy to prevent people from walking out.

Ellen and I liked it, but as I said, I'd be hesitant to see it again any time soon. If there was anything good about Hostel, it was the technical quality of the filmmaking. It's impressive as a visual experiment, but the story and characters do little to endear themselves to the audience. Paying $3 for my ticket probably helped, too. Would you enjoy it? My advice is to go with your gut instinct after you watch the trailer.
Current Mood: tiredfine. a little sleepy.
Current Music: Chemical Wedding

(25 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:xoshua
Date:January 25th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
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so... if i don't care for QT... it sound like i should maybe give this a chance? though i already know i'll see it soon.. sounds too weird not to.

bitch.
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
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Like I said, it's more impressive for its presentation than anything else. I recommend it if it looked good, though.
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From:jeklnskinsgrl
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
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I saw this movie the Monday before the last time I went to Madison. There were so many horrid things in and about this movie, one of them being the movie was the worst bastardized version of The Most Dangerous Game ever made. If I had known the movie was going to be that bad, I would have waited till it came out on video. *Rants for ten more minutes* Other than that, it was ok.
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, this comment inspired me to revise the last paragraph of my post. I guess my reaction is that on a technical level, this is a very good film. Unfortunately, very few people are willing to shell out $8.50 to study shot composition and lighting techniques. The people who are interested in that stuff are going to miss out on Hostel because of the type of movie it is.
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From:defaultlisa
Date:January 25th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC)
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Doesn't sound like my kind of thing so much ... I mean who goes questing for 'tang in BRATISLAVA, of all places?
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Yeah... The "'tang'" thing is a reference to an episode of That '70s Show. Kelso is reading a magazine, and announces that he wants to be an astronaut. Somebody asks him why, and he tells them, "it says in here that astronauts get all the Tang they want!"

It's a dumb joke, and I don't watch That '70s Show, but for some reason it's lodged in my memory.

Anyway, if the trailer for Hostel didn't grab your attention, it won't be worth your time. The filmmaking is impressive, but it's a movie about torture, fercryinoutloud, so you either need to be a film-tech buff or in the mood for a violent horror movie. Most people won't fit into either of those groups.
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From:defaultlisa
Date:January 25th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
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I think that "'tang" is well-known and well-referenced outside of That 70s Show, though :-)

I am sure it is much safer just to pursue the powdered drink mix. Then again, who knows where you will end up if you drive all over town at 3 in the morning looking for your orange fix.

Maybe this is unwarranted bias on my part, but if I were hanging out in Eastern Europe, I'd be really, really cautious about where I went and when.
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
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I dunno, the best Tang I've ever had was imported from Moldova. Well, first it was exported from the U.S., then it was imported from Moldova. Come to think of it, it wasn't the best Tang ever, just the most expensive. You know what? This joke is completely failing to work. Never mind, I'll just state that I'd never heard the word "poontang" abbreviated that way before, and leave it at that. Anyway...

Since you're not going to see the movie, can I spoil the plot for you? For those skimming the text of these comments who plan on seeing this movie, this is where you should stop reading.

Maybe this is unwarranted bias on my part, but if I were hanging out in Eastern Europe, I'd be really, really cautious about where I went and when.

Yes, yes indeed. If there's any message to this movie, it's that people will do the worst things imaginable under severe economic stress. Here's the part of the plot I left out of the description above: In Amsterdam, the students are told that Eastern Europe is totally the place to party, and they are directed to a hostel which they "won't find on any map." As it turns out, the local economy of (wherever it is they end up) revolves around selling murder vacations to wealthy businessmen. One of the kids gets killed, and the other escapes, committing a couple of murders and losing a bunch of fingers in the process.

If you've seen any movie (other than Rocky Horror) where somebody seeks help after their car breaks down, you've basically seen Hostel.

I've heard enough horror stories from people who have witnessed the cultural effects of severe economic depression that I don't doubt that a few such operations exist on a smaller scale (i.e., entire villages are probably not involved). The idea for the movie came, apparently, from a Thai website offering the chance to commit a murder for $10,000. Tarantino and Roth thought it probably wasn't a real service, but would make an interesting premise for a movie.

One has to wonder just what Mr. Roth was Googling for when he found that site.
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From:defaultlisa
Date:January 25th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
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In Amsterdam, the students are told that Eastern Europe is totally the place to party

Now see, this totally sounds like a practical joke.
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From:defaultlisa
Date:January 25th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
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Gone horribly, horribly wrong.
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Totally. And horribly.
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From:lantry
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)

I see.

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And exactly how is this different form Rocky Horror? I don't see the cause for exception.
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)

Re: I see.

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Maybe I'm the only one who sees the difference, but I got the feeling that in Rocky Horror, Brad and Janet had what is sometimes referred to as a "balls-out, wicked awesome good time," while the experience of the main characters in Hostel would be described as "lousy."

But um, anyway, welcome to Livejournal!
[User Picture]
From:lantry
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)

Re: I see.

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How about Meatloaf/Eddie?
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)

Re: I see.

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Well, Eddie does have a pretty lousy time, but his car doesn't get stuck.
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From:matt_william
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
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I've been wanting to see this since it first came out. Unfortunately, real life keeps getting in the way. I love a good gore and splatter movie and this one sounds like it would be right up my alley. Thanks for the review...now I wanna see it even more :P

Matthew
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 25th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
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You are definitely one of the (few) people on my Friends list who I know would want to see this movie. I'm betting you like it, too.

Anyway, on to more pressing matters:

What's the scoop on Chicago this weekend? I e-mailed Jim this morning saying that I'd been waiting to hear from either of you two before I committed myself to anything, and I'm kind of getting nervous with Friday fast approaching.
[User Picture]
From:matt_william
Date:January 25th, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC)
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I just got off the phone with Sarah and as far as I know this weekend is a GO. I know Jim and I both have Friday off. Tim has welcomed us with open arms as far as I know and I'm pretty sure the plan is to hang out and maybe torture each other with our own little B-Fest (esp since I just picked up "The Ultimate Billy Jack" collection on DVD...now there's some real cheese.

Sarah is gonna talk to Time just to confirm everything and I'll get back to ya later though after I know for sure, but as of right now I'd say everything is GO.

Matthew
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From:seanorange
Date:January 25th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
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Chicago? Shit, you should bug me if you have the time. I'll probably be coding (or car shopping) all weekend anyway.

~Sean
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From:sacredspud
Date:January 26th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
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Well... I guess I'll have to talk to Jim about this. We're going to B-Fest, a film festival featuring 24 hours of B-movies. Scary stuff.

We'll be at Mitsuwa on Friday afternoon and you're welcome to join us, but that's probably the only convenient time for us to get together.
[User Picture]
From:seanorange
Date:January 26th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
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If by "afternoon" you mean after 5:30, then yeah.

Ah well, maybe next time!

~Sean
[User Picture]
From:matt_william
Date:January 25th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
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We have B-Fest tickets...repeat...WE HAVE B-FEST TICKETS!!!

Matthew
[User Picture]
From:rob_matsushita
Date:January 25th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
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No suprise to anyone, but I've actually seen this TWICE now.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:January 26th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC)

Be still my beating heart!

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A nice Jewish boy like you doing at a movie like Hostel?

No, actually, there were multiple points where Hostel made me think of Welcome to the Terrordome or Orange Murder Suit. As far as I'm concerned, this is ground that Rob Matsushita trod first.

This comment will probably embarrass me in the morning.
[User Picture]
From:rob_matsushita
Date:January 26th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)

Re: Be still my beating heart!

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Actually, after I saw "Cabin Fever," my immediate reaction was, "well, now I know who SHOULD be making my plays into movies."

So, yeah, Roth's on that short list with Nacho Vigalondo, John Woo, and Takashi Miike as people I'd most like to team up with.

(On a related note, I'm working on a Hostel parody--more on this as it happens.)
Hostel - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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