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Oh my gosh, there’s blood everywhere! ‘Hostel’ delivers the ensanguined goods, but nobody cares


International Production Company

Directed and written by Eli Roth

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jana Kaderabkova and Jan Vlask

Rated R/95 minutes

Opened Jan. 6, 2006

Two-and-a-half out of four stars

“Hostel” would probably be a better movie if it were about two gay cowboys shtupping each other silly in the Wyoming wilderness instead of three moron adult adolescents chasing skirt in Europe. It’s hard to feel sorry for these jerks when they end up being the subjects of sadistic torture and murder.

The young men in question are Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson), and tagging along with them is a friend they met along the way, Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson). Paxton and Josh have just graduated from college and are spending a few weeks backpacking around Europe, staying in hostels and getting as much proverbial ass as possible. For the first 30 minutes, “Hostel” thinks it’s a sex comedy, and it gets pretty old pretty fast.

They eventually get referred to one particular hostel in Slovakia, where they are promised they will find the loosest women in Europe. Only it’s not just a hostel-it’s a front for a vast torture chamber, featuring a cornucopia of fun and inventive ways to maim, disfigure and mutilate unsuspecting tourists.

OK, so we don’t expect too much of a plot in a movie like this. All we want is to be scared, or horrified-or at the very least, we expect to be on the edge of our seats.

That is what seems to be missing here-the suspense! The overlong expositional scenes are bad enough, but even when we get into the meat of the story (so to speak), there’s nothing to really grab onto-especially considering that the protagonist, Paxton, is a thoroughly uninteresting character. “Hostel” has a few great scenes (not coincidentally, these are the few times when director Eli Roth ratchets up the suspense a little instead of just trying to disgust us), and people die in some pretty cool ways. But that’s pretty much it.

For pure horror genre fans, “Hostel” probably delivers the goods. But most truly good horror works because it builds tension and suspense-and there’s little of that here. All we get is some rather inventive gore (definitely not for the squeamish), but it’s gore that exists just to exist and nothing else.

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