003797Reviews & Counting
Hostel (Unrated)
DVD disk
04.17.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Hostel (Unrated) order
Eli Roth

Jay Hernandez
Derek Richardson
Eythor Gudjonsson


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A group of three friends in Amsterdam decide to go to an off-the-map Hostel, where the promise of loose and easy women is the main meal of the day. Though once there, strange things start to happen and when the boys eventually begin to disappear one by one, they find themselves in a fight for their lives.
Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER was a film with an interesting premise, but the execution of the idea was not as interesting nor as remembered as the idea itself. But it seems as though Roth has learned from the experience, because HOSTEL is a film that unfolds slowly and isn’t afraid to let the story happen naturally. So while some take issue with the film’s first forty minutes, I found it a relaxing and refreshing change to the in-your-face, big bang opening that most films have become accustom. We get to know these guys, we hang with them, it’s just guys being guys. (In Amsterdam of course!) So when peril does eventually strike, the audience already has a stake. Not to say that Hostel doesn’t have what horror fans want – blood, gore, and plenty of T & A – as director Roth is an aficionado of classic horror elements and isn’t afraid to use any and all at his disposal. (Not to mention bringing back the R-Rated horror film – death to PG-13!)

The casting here is half the battle and it’s what gives HOSTEL its heart. Richardson, who was obviously wasted in the prequel to DUMB AND DUMBER, is terrific, Gudjonsson is fun and Hernandez, whom I gave a bad grade to for his work in the prequel to CARLITO’S WAY, shines here giving a magnetic performance – he’s definitely growing into a lead man. Everyone else here is almost unknown, which Roth obviously understands is key to a good story; we never know who is good, who is bad, who’s going to die or who’s going to live. So while HOSTEL isn’t flawless, it is a good example of how taking your time sometimes pays off. In the hostel of horror, Roth was already in the building, but it seems that this time around, he found the right room.
One to two commentaries on a DVD is not uncommon, but four??? Yup, you read it right, this Hostel DVD (which claims to be sicker and more twisted) has four different commentaries, a rather exhausting and arduous process to get through, as there are stories and pieces of info that sometimes get repeated – some up to four times! But since you count on me for the skinny, I listened to all four tracks, and here’s the lowdown.

Commentary (with Director Eli Roth and Executive Producers Quentin Tarantino, Boaz Yakin and Scott Spiegel): This commentary, again with too many people in the room, is strictly for movie geeks only, as hearing Roth and Tarantino is a film fanatic's wet dream. Lots of film trivia banter, laughing and set stories fill this one with enough to keep die hard fans drooling. For all others, it will not be able to hold your interest for the full running time.

Commentary (with Director Eli Roth, Actors Barbara Nedeljakova and Eythor Gudjonsson, Editor George Folsey Jr. and Web Author Harry Knowles): This one suffers from too many people that have nothing really interesting to say. Roth acts as an interviewer here, first with Folsey Jr., who is not too forthcoming with the stories. Then at the thirty-three minute mark, Ain’tItCoolNews.com fanboy Harry Knowles talks to Roth via the phone (he’s just too important!) and the conversation is like pulling blood from a stone. Roth has all the personality, Knowles should have borrowed some. Then at one hour, twelve minutes, Nedeljakova talks to Roth and the fact that English is not her first language is only one of the problems. And finally at one hour, twenty-five minutes, Gudjonsson phones up and talks to Roth, but it feels like we’re eaves dropping in on a call between two friends and it’s not exactly a party line. The end result here is that we didn’t need to hear from any of these folks, they have nothing new to say (especially Knowles - bro how can you do this stuff and still remain objective?!), nothing that any hardcore fan would have to hear, and with the exception of Roth, rigormortis seems to be setting in!

Commentary (with Director Eli Roth, Producer Chris Briggs & Documentarian Gabriel Roth): This has to be the most boring and redundant of the tracks, with so many stories and info being repeated from the other tracks. Again, Eli takes center stage, with Briggs chiming in occasionally, and Gabriel seems as though he’s asleep. This one did not need to be here.

Commentary (with Director Eli Roth): This is by far the best commentary to listen to. Roth takes you through his experience, from the end of CABIN FEVER, his first film, to the end of HOSTEL. It’s an honest (he boldly states that a filmmaker “cannot shoot a film in the United States independently”) and revealing look at what happens behind the scenes with a successful new filmmaker. Note to Roth: forget this obsession with an over abundance of commentary tracks and trying to overcompensate, you’re more then enough on your own bro!

Hostel Dissected: This is a behind the scenes look at the making of HOSTEL, and it’s one you can’t take your eyes off of. It’s shocking, funny, informative and just downright entertaining. It’s just like being on the set during shooting, amongst all the crew and actors and they’re all being candid. It can be broken up into three pieces, which should only be used if you can’t watch it all at once. I say go for the Play All feature, as it’s all good!

Part One (26:54): Highlights from this section include mocking a member of crew about his Rock and Roll past and encountering an actor who comes in to play a cab driver, but ends up being….drunk.

Part Two (14:29): Best Moment - a loving look at the KNB EFX guys using the KILL BILL fire extinguishers to spray unsuspecting older extras in the face with blood. Love it.

Part Three (13:56): More hijinks and shooting and while nothing really stands out here, it’s all just engrossing.

There is also a Multi-Angle Feature called Kill The Car!, which lets you switch from camera to camera in the sequence where the kids beat the stuffing out of two thugs and a car. (A feature for those with severe anger issues only!) Plus a Previews section with Trailers for WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, SILENT HILL, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION, THE CAVE, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, BOOGEYMAN, RING AROUND THE ROSIE, and THE FOG.
A good story is key to a successful film in any genre and Roth, who has grown since his first film CABIN FEVER, is fully aware. HOSTEL is a riveting story of friendship, vanity, and a good sharp hook. As far as the special features, there’s a knockin’ doc on the making of the flick, but the commentaries…well, for once I’ll let Roth himself have the last word. I recently asked Roth (who said he was working on Hostel 2!) on the red carpet if there was “really a need for four, yes four audio commentaries on one disc?” His response: “Yes! I like DVD’s that you can go back to, over and over and over, and there’s always more stuff there. I don’t think that anyone should ever listen to all four audio commentaries in one sitting, that’s not the point. The point is that you have the DVD for five years and you’re like, oh wait a minute maybe there’s a…I never opened this track, or you watch it a few times and you’re more interested in another angle, so that’s why I put all that stuff on there.”

Five years? Not all in one sitting? Great, now he tells me! (Guess he didn’t have the last word after all!)
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