Hostel (2005 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Eli Roth|
|Written by||Eli Roth|
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Edited by||George Folsey, Jr.|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Box office||$80.6 million|
Hostel is a 2005 American horror film written, produced, and directed by Eli Roth and starring Jay Hernandez. It is the first installment of the Hostel film series, followed by Hostel: Part II, released on June 8, 2007, and Hostel: Part III, released on December 27, 2011. The film tells the story of two college students traveling across Europe, who find themselves in the middle of a business in which wealthy clients pay to torture and kill kidnapped victims.
College students Paxton and Josh are traveling across Europe with their Icelandic friend Óli. In Amsterdam, the three meet a young man named Alexei who convinces them to visit a hostel in Slovakia filled with beautiful women, redirecting them from Barcelona.
The three board a train to Slovakia, encountering a strange Dutch businessman who touches Josh's leg, and Josh yells at him causing the embarrassed businessman to leave. When they arrive at the Slovakian Hostel they are greeted by Natalya and Svetlana who invite them to the spa and later to the disco. Josh is approached by a group of street boys known as the "Bubblegum Gang" who demand money and are about to attack Josh when the Dutch Businessman saves him. In return, Josh buys the Dutch Businessman a drink and apologizes for his reaction back on the train. Later, Paxton and Josh sleep with Natalya and Svetlana, while Óli leaves with the desk girl, Vala. The next morning, they are surprised to see that Óli hasn't returned yet, and they are unable to contact him. They are approached by a Japanese girl named Kana who shows them a photo of Óli and her friend Yuki, who has strangely disappeared as well. They later receive a message from Óli's phone claiming he went home, but it is revealed that Óli was decapitated and his phone was taken by his killer.
Though Josh is anxious to leave immediately Paxton convinces him to stay one more night. That night, Josh and Paxton are slipped tranquilizers and Josh stumbles back to the hotel room, while Paxton passes out in the disco's storage room.
Josh wakes up in a dungeon-like room, and is approached by a man who drills holes into his chest and legs. The man removes his mask, revealing himself to be the Dutch Businessman, and tells Josh about his failed dream of becoming a surgeon. After Josh begs to be set free the Dutch Businessman slices Josh's achilles, and removes his restraints. Unable to walk, Josh attempts to crawl to the door but is killed by the Dutch Businessman, who slices his throat with a scalpel.
Paxton wakes up the next morning to find Josh missing and returns to the hostel. He gets frustrated with the desk clerk who claims they already checked out, and when he returns to his room he is greeted by two women who invite him to the spa in an eerily similar manner to Natalaya and Svetlana.
After the authorities prove unhelpful, Paxton tracks Natalya and Svetlana to a pub and interrogates them, demanding to know where Josh is. Natalya tells him that Josh and Óli are visiting an art exhibit, and she agrees to take him there. They arrive at an old factory and Paxton is horrified to witness Josh's mutilated corpse being stitched together by the Dutch Businessman. Paxton is ambushed by thugs and dragged to a cell where he is confined to a chair, and joined minutes later by a German client named Johann. A guard puts a ball gag in Paxton's mouth after he tries to plead with the businessman in German. When Johann threatens Paxton with a chainsaw, Paxton begins to vomit, and Johann removes the gag. He then severs two of Paxton's fingers, severing his restraints as well. When Johann lunges at Paxton with the chainsaw he slips on the gag and severs his own leg. Paxton reaches for a gun and shoots Johann in the head. After calling for the guard in German Paxton shoots him and escapes the cell.
Paxton enters another room and hides in the bottom of a cart filled with corpses and severed limbs. A butcher takes the corpses to the bottom floor to be incinerated and Paxton bludgeons him with a sledge hammer. Paxton then takes the elevator to the top floor and makes it into the dressing room, where he changes into business clothes and meets an American client who mistakes him for another customer.
Paxton makes it out of the factory, but returns after hearing cries for help. He discovers Kana being tortured by the American who is burning her eye with a blowtorch. After killing the American client Paxton cuts Kana's limp eye, and they flee in a stolen car, pursued by guards.
While driving, Paxton comes across Natalya, Svetlana, and Alexi, and runs them over, killing them. Paxton then encounters the Bubblegum Gang and offers them a large bag of bubble gum to let him pass, and to kill the guards that are following them. Paxton and Kana make it to the train station, but after seeing a reflection of her disfigured face, Kana leaps in the path of an oncoming train. This creates a distraction, allowing Paxton to board another train unnoticed.
Once aboard, Paxton hears the voice of the Dutch Businessman. When the train stops in Vienna, Austria, Paxton follows him to a public restroom, and drops the Elite Hunting club's card under his stall. When the Dutch Businessman reaches down to pick it up Paxton severs the same two fingers he lost with a scalpel. Paxton then enters the stall and nearly drowns the Dutch Businessman in the toilet, but allows him to see his reflection before slitting his throat, killing him. Paxton then leaves to board another train.
Director's Cut Ending
In the Director's Cut, there's an alternative ending where the Dutch Businessman meets up with his young daughter and they both leave to use their respective gender's restroom. On the way out of the men's restroom, the Dutch Businessman notices a scalpel laying on the sink counter. He then leaves to wait outside the women's restroom, but when his daughter does not come out, he goes inside only to find her teddy bear. Sent into a panic, the Dutch Businessman runs out onto the train platform, looking for his daughter, only for Paxton to be shown taking his daughter away on a departing train.
- Jay Hernandez as Paxton
- Derek Richardson as Josh
- Eyþór Guðjónsson as Óli
- Barbara Nedeljáková as Natalya
- Jan Vlasák as The Dutch Businessman
- Jana Kaderabkova as Svetlana
- Jennifer Lim as Kana
- Keiko Seiko as Yuki
- Lubomir Bukovy as Alexei
- Jana Havlickova as Vala
- Rick Hoffman as The American Client
- Petr Janiš as Johan, the German Surgeon
- Takashi Miike as Miike Takashi
- Patrik Zigo as The Bubblegum Gang Leader
- Milda "Jedi" Havlas as Desk Clerk Jedi
- Miroslav Táborský as Police Officer
- Josef Bradna as The Butcher
- Klara Smetanova as Girl
- Eli Roth as American Stoner
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Despite the fact that most of the film is set in a fictional location near Bratislava, Slovakia, not a single sequence was actually shot in Slovakia. It was filmed at the Barrandov Studios, Prague and in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic. In addition to the lower costs of filming in the Czech Republic, Barrandov has well-equipped sound stages, making it a popular choice for U.S. productions set in Europe. Ninety-five percent of the film was shot on location in and around Prague, and the stage was only used for the main torture rooms. The last scene was filmed at Hamburg Dammtor train station in Germany.
The film's opening weekend North American box office gross was $19.5 million, making it the top grossing film that weekend. It went on to gross a total of $47.2 million in the U.S. The film's budget was approximately $4.8 million, and the film went on to gross over $80 million at the box office worldwide.
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The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 61% based on 104 reviews, with the site's consensus stating, "Featuring lots of guts and gore, Hostel is a wildly entertaining corpse-filled journey—assuming one is entertained by corpses, guts, and gore, that is." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 55 out of 100, based on 21 reviews.
Entertainment Weekly 's film critic Owen Gleiberman commended the film's creativity, saying "You may or may not believe that slavering redneck psychos, of the kind who leer through Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, can be found in the Southwest, but it's all too easy to envision this sort of depravity in the former Soviet bloc, the crack-up of which has produced a brutal marketplace of capitalistic fiendishness. The torture scenes in Hostel (snipped toes, sliced ankles, pulled eyeballs) are not, in essence, much different from the surgical terrors in the Saw films, only Roth, by presenting his characters as victims of the same world of flesh-for-fantasy they were grooving on in the first place, digs deep into the nightmare of a society ruled by the profit of illicit desire."
The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw noted that Hostel was "actually silly, crass and queasy. And not in a good way". David Edelstein of New York Magazine was equally negative, deriding director Roth with creating the horror subgenre "torture porn", or "gorno", using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act. Jean-François Rauger, film critic for Le Monde, a French newspaper, and programmer of the Cinémathèque Française, listed Hostel as the best American film of 2006, calling it an example of modern consumerism. Hostel won the 2006 Empire Award for Best Horror Film. The film's underlying social critique and its link to Marxist and Nietzschean philosophy was debated by a panel at Rider University's 2010 Film Symposium by Dr. Barry Seldes, Dr. Robert Good, and James Morgart.
Slovak reaction to setting
The film's release was accompanied by strong complaints from the country of Slovakia, and also from the Czech Republic. Slovak and Czechs officials were both disgusted and outraged by the film's portrayal of their country as an undeveloped, poor and uncultured land suffering from high criminality, war, and prostitution, fearing it would "damage the good reputation of Slovakia" and make foreigners feel it was a dangerous place to be. The tourist board of Slovakia invited Roth on an all-expenses-paid trip to their country so he could see it is not made up of run-down factories and kids who kill for bubble gum. Tomáš Galbavý, a Slovak Member of Parliament from the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party, commented: "I am offended by this film. I think that all Slovaks should feel offended."
Defending himself, Roth said the film was not meant to be offensive, arguing "Americans do not even know that this country exists. My film is not a geographical work but aims to show Americans' ignorance of the world around them." Roth has repeatedly argued that despite the many films in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, people still travel to Texas.
- "HOSTEL (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
- Hostel at Box Office Mojo
- "Hostel (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Hostel (2006): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Movie Review: Hostel". Entertainment Weekly.
- "Florian Evers". Vexierbilder des Holocaust, LIT, Munster, 2011.
- Peter Bradshaw: "Hostel" review, at Guardian Unlimited
- David Edelstein: Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn, at New York Magazine, published on January 28th, 2006.
- Jean Francois Rauger (2006-12-27). "Les films préférés des critiques du "Monde" en 2006". Le Monde (accessed with Google Translate). Retrieved 2009-05-13.
- Film and Media Studies to Host Symposium on Horror[dead link]
- Cameron, Rob (24 February 2006). "Smash hit horror Hostel causes a stir among citizens of sleepy Slovakia". Radio Prague. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "Slovakia angered by horror film". BBC News. 27 February 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "Hostel: April 2006 Archives".
- "Close-Up Film Features".
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- Official website
- Hostel at the Internet Movie Database
- Hostel at AllMovie
- Hostel at Box Office Mojo
- Hostel at Rotten Tomatoes
- Hostel at Metacritic