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.
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.
Totally underrated as a sendup of douchey American tourism and macho weekend warrior dudebros. Also manages to feel genuinely sick and disturbing with the kind of nightmarishly obscure and remote atmosphere felt in films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The typical "torture porn" criticism is not at all apt, either. Roth's best film, on par with upper-echelon Miike; I hope he'll do something this good again.
The only thing I liked about this movie was Paxton's quick thinking and resilience. Otherwise, I pretty much regret buying the DVD before watching it elsewhere. The moment that caught me the most is when Paxton is first captured and the crazed surgeon is snipping the huge shears in front of his face. I applaud Roth's efforts, but it was just boring gore with the only fear being that it could actually happen.