Despite what people feel this film is a reaction to the height of the war on terrorism in post 9/11 America. The movie is not racist or sexist or homophobic but on a surface level hates everthing but it is in fact a critique of different ethnic and gender roles.
While I would never dispute the merits of watching any film in a theater auditorium versus a living room, I'm glad I caught this for the first time in 2018. The allusions to the Bush-era War on Terror still feel timely, if not more-so than in 2005, and seeing toxic "bro culture" get its just desserts via such sadistic means feels... dare I say cathartic? After the visuals got past my gag reflex, that is.
What once looked like an endorsement now feels like critique. The entitled sexism & cultural insensitivity of the frat-boys abroad now resonates with contemporary discussions on "toxic masculinity" & the jingoism of post 9/11 America. The films comes into its own in the second act, where the atrocity exhibition of the narrative proper seems redolent of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo & the perspective of US soldiers in Iraq.
It's little wonder that "Hostel" proved easy for mainstream critics to dismiss - it so assumes the texture of the very genre it's critiquing, the teen sex comedy, as to become nearly indistinguishable from the real thing...until the screws tighten and the viewer awakens in an Old World hell. Eli Roth's work may have grown increasingly commercial, but "Hostel" is one of the premiere horror films of the Bush years.
Like the good horror/splatter movies from the 1970s Roth's film is a mirror of social situations. MUBI's opinion that it is a "critique of American exceptionalism" is far from being inappropriate or outmoded. Believe me: last week I had to travel from Vienna to Berlin via Prague by train and saw a lot of backpack tourists behaving like the three men...
There is a sickening moment when a permanently disfigured young girl looks into a mirror, then throws herself into the front of a train. Hell, that haunted me. I realized it wasn't disgust I was feeling, but sadness. A person briefly starring into a reflection of hopelessness. It is their own. I would do the same.
This torture porn made me think, Gawt dammit.
Interesting premise, awesome locations but utter dogshit script and delivery. No suspense at all just oodles of bro talk, empty female characters and poorly shot & just plain nasty gore porn scenes (even failing in that regard by lacking all eroticism and aesthetic beauty what so ever). Eli Roth is a moronic frat boy fuckwad who seems clueless about his sexuality and what he is trying to say with this.