Let’s get this straight from the very start: Hostel is not a Quentin Tarantino film. He was its executive producer. This is directed by Eli Roth, whose debut grind house flick Cabin Fever delivered with an entertaining piece of derivative trash that relied too much on constructing the narrative wholesale out of iconic moments from the ‘70s shockers it aspired to pay homage to. With his fan boy flag flying too high, his own cinematic identity was lost among the easily identifiable set pieces. With his sophomore effort, Roth’s voice is more clearly heard.
A pair of young Americans (Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson) traipse across Europe in search of pot and easy sex, joined by newfound Icelandic friend Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson). These are the kind of guys who fly all the way to Amsterdam just to get stoned. Yep, our true ambassadors. While toking it up in a hostel, they are clued in to an uber-secret hostel in Slovakia that holds promises of many fine Eastern Bloc babes eager to do all sorts of nastiness to fine young American boys.
And nastiness awaits in spades.
While the central premise is in no way unique (variations of the theme go back to the early ‘30s), what little fun there is to be found here is in wondering what the hell is going to happen to our numbskull protagonists. Granted, this is a much more accomplished entry than Cabin Fever. Here instead of overtly referencing his influences, he adds light touches inferring them, moving on from the 42nd Street ‘70s grind house to include Italian giallo and J-horror flourishes.
Unfortunately, late in the film is when things get rolling. Until then, we get interminable amounts of frat boy interaction spiced by acres of bare female flesh. Not a bad thing, but I’m not 16 anymore. So as an exploitation piece packed with boobies and a half-hour of simulated torture, Hostel delivers what it promises.