Directed by Eli Roth, starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Jan Vlasák, Barbara Nedeljakova and Jana Kaderabkova.
Having won fans with his cheap and nasty forest horror 'Cabin Fever', director Eli Roth returns with 'Hostel', another budget bloodbath but one lacking in tension and more rushed than a check-out at an over-booked backpacker haunt.
Touring Europe, American graduates Paxton and Josh (Hernandez and Richardson) hook up with Icelandic wildman Oli (Gudjonsson) and head for Amsterdam. While there, they hear of a hostel in Slovakia full of beautiful women - and are shown the pictures to prove it. Changing their plans, the trio head east and discover that the hostel lives up to its pictorial billing. It all seems too good to be true - and they're about to discover just how far from home and in over their heads they really are.
Americans' perceptions of Europe and the stereotypes US directors present onscreen can result in plenty of humour, but 'Hostel' hits a new low at depicting another country. The Slovakians are up in arms about this film and it's easy to see why: Not only did Roth & co shoot it in the Czech Republic but they've turned Slovakia into the most lawless dead end imaginable with the Eastern European mafia, in cahoots hookers, crooked police, gum-addicted street children and visiting serial killers all offering a warm welcome to the hapless tourist.
Roth claims he wanted to show how ignorant Americans are of Europe, but it's a defence that rings hollow. If you can imagine the uproar if someone decided to set 'Deliverance' in a small Irish town... well, you're not even close to the offence caused here.
Equally offensive to the neutral viewer is the fact that Roth uses a hunted-becomes-the-hunter plot that's hardly groundbreaking and has no idea how to pace a film. 'Hostel' begins like 'American Pie' but turns so quickly into a slasher movie that you'll think there's an entire act missing.
It seems to have become some industry standard now to assume that horror fans only have an attention span of 90 minutes and Roth whizzes through the scenes, turning his film into a video game and destroying any potential for suspense in the process.
What he relies on instead is gore and on that front 'Hostel' delivers - but no amount of claret can hide the film's failings.