Monday, December 10, 2012

SIX HOURS OF MY LIFE I WILL NEVER GET BACK: THINGS I LEARNED FROM WATCHING THE HOSTEL TRILOGY IN A SINGLE SITTING

There are moments in my life where I make extremely unwise decisions and I will be the last to admit it when I've made a mistake.  However, this is an instance where I will scream from the rooftops how much of an idiot I am.  I'm one of those horror nerds that likes to watch franchises all at once.  When it's Halloween, I'm that asshole that stays inside all day to watch every single Halloween film ever made in a row.  Thanks to the wonderful feature of FEARnet and a hell of a chest cold, my dumbass thought it would be wise to watch all three HOSTEL films, one right after another.  This is the part where my Sassy Gay Friend should pop in and ask me to "look at my life, look at my choices," because this was definitely one of my more idiotic decisions.  I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I hated HOSTEL when it first came out. I really, really hated it. Now before anyone makes a comment about me being a girl or not being able to handle the gore, you can take those stupid comments and put them in your pocket.  I love me some gore, but it needs to have a purpose and it needs to have motivation behind it.  I felt the original HOSTEL was  nothing more than gratuitous violence that rested solely on gross-out factor and provided little to no storyline credibility.  Hoping that maybe Eli Roth could retain some of his Cabin Fever glory in the sequel, I watched that.  I'll be honest, I turned it off about a half hour into  it. I just couldn't do it.  One would think that after that I'd be done with it all but little miss "glass-half-full" over here thought that maybe seeing them all at once would be the better choice.  Boy, was I wrong.  Just like any messy breakup, instead of being upset about all of the wasted time it's important to understand and appreciate the things you learned from the experience.  I submit for approval, the life lessons learned from enduring the HOSTEL trilogy in one sitting.
HOSTEL
Strong concepts can't save a weak movie: If there's one thing I won't deny Eli Roth, it's that he did create a Hell of a creepy concept.  The idea that there are people willing to pay a large sum of money to be a part of a league of violent killers with a penchant for torturing innocent tourists sounds like TAKEN on Walter White strength meth.  Having an interesting idea isn't all a film needs to be successful.  There is little to no tension in the film and all of the violence and killing feels entirely unmotivated.  Now, I understand that half of the charm comes from the "random acts of killing" but this just didn't click right with me.  There just wasn't a fluidity between the storyline and the actions within it. For shame, pussycat.   

Decent acting also cannot save a weak movie: As an actor myself, I am a very picky critic when it comes to acting in a horror film.  I don't think anyone in this film is deserving of any awards for their performances anytime soon, but Jay Hernandez is pretty damn convincing.  At least all of the actors were on the same page with their mediocrity, which gave some sense of continuity within a film that had none elsewhere.  Despite having actors that seemed very committed to the direction they had been given, the film still felt extremely flat and void of any sort of depth.  This could possibly be the terrible writing given for the women in this film.  Can screenwriters please start consulting women before they try to write for them? Eli Roth may have a hell of a female fanbase, but it is blatantly apparent the man has absolutely no clue how to write women.

Your special FX are bad, and you should feel bad: I don't do eye trauma, I don't. It's quite possibly the greatest kryptonite I have.  Upon my first viewing of HOSTEL I distinctly remember having to cover my face and I barely made it through the scene. Upon revisiting, I have no idea what I was so scared of.  One of the most well known scenes from the film has quite possibly the WORST special FX I have ever seen.  When she's screaming in the chair before Paxton cuts off the eye, YOU CAN SEE HER CLOSED EYELID UNDER THE PROSTHETIC. Come on, guys. Get your shit together. That's just basic FX makeup 101. The Achilles tendon cut is pretty good, but the eye scene is one of the worst makeup jobs I've seen in a very long time. Howard Berger, you're better than this.

Roth has absolutely no idea what people really talk like: There is this weird trend going on with filmmakers and having absolutely no idea what teenagers/young 20-somethings actually sound like. HOSTEL doesn't have any lines that are particularly memorable, but Roth slam jams some sarcastic rudeness and tries to play it off as "this is how kids today talk" but the thing is, they don't. They don't talk like how he thinks they do, at all. At 22, I think I'd know. His entire script of dialogue feels entirely forced and trying way too hard to be edgy.  It feels like that kid in the back of everyone's fiction writing class that just HAD to push the envelope if for any other reason than pushing the envelope.  My friends and I have a fair share of conversations that would make even Lisa Lampanelli blush, but Eli Roth must be compensating for something with the amount of dick references he's got sprinkled throughout...It was laughable in a bad way and really hurt the overall atmosphere of the film.  It's okay to be funny, but it's another thing for every single sentence out of someone's mouth to be worthy of upvotes on internet forums.  Good Example of Young Adult Dialogue: Adam Green's FROZEN

HOSTEL II
Eli Roth still has no idea how to write women: There is a reason that Eli Roth hasn't settled down yet, he has no idea what women are all about. Instead of focusing on frat boys like in the first film, Hostel II focuses on three art students who are the stockiest stock characters that ever stock charactered.  I still can't determine if it's because Eli Roth really, truly doesn't understand women, or if he's just a lazy fucking writer.  Two hours of hearing from whiny drunk blonde, overly angsty 'unique' brunette, and desperate wannabe. Heather Matarazzo must have been in a bind for cash, because this was so beneath her.

No one has any idea how much blood is in the human body: One of the misogynist scenes in horror history is the "Elizabeth Bathory" scene and with good reason. It may be (technically speaking) the best shot of the film, but Heather Matarazzo probably has about 3 liters of blood in her entire body, and there is no way she would be spilling this much all over this woman. I was so pissed off watching this scene, and the most misunderstood use of human blood since Johnny Depp's beddeath in Nightmare on Elm Street didn't help the case.

Apparently casting isn't important:  When I'm thinking of terrifying villains, I of course think immediately of Roger Bart.  Um. What? Roger Bart?! THE STRAIGHT NATHAN LANE?! A VILLAIN?! Eli Roth, I know you're not the best at casting (see Rider Strong in Cabin Fever) but this is ridiculous. This man has made a career as a character actor.  I'm all for giving actors opportunities out of type, but casting Roger Bart as a villain is about as convincing as casting Michael Cera as a heartthrob.  Every time he was on screen I was dumbfounded as to how THIS was their best option. Seriously? I just look at him and start singing showtunes.

Gimmicks can be used without reason: I'm sorry. What in the actual fuck was the purpose of putting these little desensitized hellions outside of being 'shocking' or 'edgy'?  Every time these little buggers came on screen I didn't know whether to laugh or scream in frustration.  It's one thing when killer kids have a purpose, but these kids served absolutely no purpose to the film at all. If the scenes including these kids were cut, the film would have lost absolutely nothing, if anything, the film could have benefited from keeping these ridiculously purposeless scenes on the cutting room floor.



HOSTEL III

Weird shit for no reason is a great distraction: Look at this mask. I'm serious. Look at it.  The entire premise of the third installment feels like the series had a baby with the rich people form Rat Race and are now betting in Vegas on the parameters of the deaths of these innocent people.  I kind of dig this concept, but what the hell was the point of this? It's aesthetically impressive, yes, but really distracting. I didn't care about the death scene, all I wanted was a better look at her mask work, which I think was the point all along. This film is garbage, here's a cool mask as a consolation prize.

Sluts are dumb: I am not using the word in an attempt to slut shame, I am using it because that is the stock character all of the women in this film fall into. They're all either escorts or sexually active which is HOLY SHIT SO TABOO in today's modern world.  So when this poor lass is covered with bugs and sweet stuff on her mouth, the slut wouldn't know any better than to close her mouth, would she? Of course not, because for a woman to have any sort of intelligence in any of these films is just too unrealistic. Did I mention she was dressed up like a cheerleader as well? Oh yeah, that happened too.

Victor learned a lot while he was in Europe: One of the more interesting casting choices was Kip Pardue as the villain.  I found it to be a really interesting choice and Pardue really delivered.  Taking the Elite Hunting Club out of their dreary European chambers and into the glamorous world of Las Vegas almost made it a little creepier for me (as an American) to think that this was going on in a place I'd actually visited instead of a location I'll probably avoid like the plague.  It seems that once the film got out of the hands of Eli Roth, things started to improve a little. I mean, a half step up from garbage is still trash, but this could have been a lot worse than it was.

I just saved you six miserable hours. 
You can thank me later.

7 comment(s):

Maynard Morrissey said...

Haha, I did the same a few months ago :) Part 1 is ok, nothing too special. Part 2 is simply awful. Part 3 is meh but IMO more entertaining than 2 (take that, Eli!) :)

Roger said...

Thank you for making abundantly and aggressively clear what the rest of the dumb/numb/horror-fan world doesn't want to accept: Eli Roth is indeed a "lazy fucking writer" - or not even a very good director. But he is a friend of Tarantino who got lucky and QT seems to get off on letting ER do these jerk-off horror films so he doesn't have to.

In another universe, QT would have been doing these but for all that hipster dialogue that high-price actors want to say.

Cheers, R

The Goodkind said...

You've got more stamina than I. I gave up after II, although to be fair I did watch Touristas as well.

Gene Phillips said...

I feel your pain, but at least you watched them on DVD, not in the theater. I just about died watching Roth's IN THE NAME OF THE KING that way.

Thanks for your efforts on your readers' behalf!

Neil Fulwood said...

Saw the first 'Hostel' when it first came out at the cinema. Hated it. Had a mild curiosity about parts two and three.

So, thank you: you've saved me four hours.

emilyeinolander.com said...

Noooo...I'm just going to thank you now. I was thinking about doing this to myself as well and now you've shown me that there is no reason to do that.

So thank you. And also I'm sorry.

Illsa Gorrey said...

I don't do eye trauma either, and I can't watch films that focus on dental damage, where they're drilling someone's teeth as a form of torture. I had way too much work done on my mouth for me to able to tolerate that shit for one second!
The other thing I don't do is bugs. Once that shit starts, I stop looking!

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