Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Hostel (2005, Eli Roth)


Literally this is a nice homage/quasi remake of the 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with some notable twists. A trio of friends travel to an Eastern European hostel and discover unknown terrors. Jay Hernandez is the main leader of the trio which also includes one other American and a guy from Iceland named Oli. Eli Roth lures us in with the first, quiet fun half, only to dive into a second, brutal act.

One scene that is blood curdling is when a man proceeds to cut a girl’s toes off. You don’t see it happening, though, and the scene is shot in a way that pays homage to the famous Chainsaw Massacre moment when Leatherface clubs someone and slams the door shut behind him. Another scene involves creepy and brutal torture, displayed in unflinching realism. Which is what the film got unfairly criticized for, along with other similar movies of that time period.

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I’m sure that better writers have dived into Hostel, Saw and other horror films that depict torture as being awful and morally wrong. Others, however, argue in favor of these movies being a mirror into American horror after 9-11 and the use of torture on terror suspects. I feel that such movies are, for better or worse, in line with the later. Particularly with the movies commentary on Americans, consumerism, and even class and social politics. Even if such thoughts are obvious or not quite well illustrated.

Despite this film’s flaws I think Hostel is an engaging slasher film with more bite than many of its breatheren. The slasher was mocked for being dumb so Eli Roth and James Wan, among others, decided to make the genre leaner, nastier and smarter. I think they succeded, and I would prefer more films like theirs than usual mindless fare, even though I do enjoy the dumb ones, too.

Milestones


I’m mostly posting this to celebrate finally reaching 1,000 views for this blog. That’s nice. Yet the fact that we often place so much importance on hitting a certain goal or moment in time is a little curious. We hold big celebrations for 50th birthdays or 50th anniversaries, noting that its such a long time and that its certainly viewed as passing a threshold into a new era. Or something like that…I know that people dread hitting 30, heh, so maybe there are milestones we are not particular fans of. Some milestones are quite tragic, such as recalling how many years its been since September 11 or Pearl Harbor happened. Regardless marking a certain period in time is something we’ll continue to do, one way or another. Especially when it comes to the Internet. I remember when on Rotten Tomatoes’ message boards cracking 10k or 20k was a big deal. Wait it still kind of is, I suppose….

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Cloverfield (2008)


14. Cloverfield (2008, Reeves)

Despite the recent binge of intelligent monster movies, there have always been smarter than average entries in the genre such as King Kong (1933) and Godzilla (1954). Not to mention another entry in this list that’s been previously noted, The Host (2006). Some have argued that Cloverfield is in fact a reflection of September 11, that horrific day when America was attacked and New York City was turned into a war zone, although not to the effect as showcased in the movie. I agree with them on that point, and its what makes Cloverfield an interesting horror/monster film and why I like monster movies: they echo our fears and paranoia about the unknown causing death and destruction upon our homes without warning. Some criticize the use of “Found Footage” style camerawork in this movie, but I like that style of film making especially in this case since it fits the chaotic and brutal nature of the creature’s attack on New York City, the reactions of a group of people that are the film’s main characters, and the military’s futile attempts to battle and deal with the monster. The first attack is particularly harrowing to watch, as the people at a party witness the early period of mayhem wrought by the great ugly beast.

Most of the film isn’t particularly scary, however the monster itself is pretty freaky and great to look at in terms of Lovecraftian design and style. With a bit of Godzilla mixed in for good measure, which is a nice touch. The tunnel scene however scared the hell out of me, largely because you cannot see what happens. You only hear the screams and the sounds of creepy crawly things going bump in the black, a dark nightmare that is really happening onscreen. Its a good thing I didn’t watch this movie in the theater, as I yelled several curse words while viewing that part of the movie at home. There is also the fact that this movie is completely serious, as past monster movies have needed to feature humor or be campy. Cloverfield is a near great film due to playing the material straight, and for being tragic and meaningful, putting the viewer in the middle of a truly bad day. For some, myself included, they recall a day of horror that we witnessed via the TV. For the unlucky others, though, they saw the events of 9-11 in person,  just like the people in Cloverfield. I pity them.

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