Horrorfest 2016 Presents: They’re Watching (2016, Jay Lender, Micah Wright)


This movie sucked and it was made by two directors. It’s not funny save for a few parts, not scary at all and it’s populated by annoying characters. I don’t mind unlikable people as long as they are interesting. The saving grace is Vladimir, who is a thinly sketched Eastern European stereotype and is still funny anyways. He has the few quality lines in the film. This is that rare found footage movie that I don’t like, and I was disappointed because it seemed decent. The last couple of witch movies I watched I also did not care for, so maybe this particular sub genre is not my thing. Imagine Hostel without the extreme moments or the quality social and political commentary. That is They’re Watching. Don’t bother to tune in.

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.

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