Tuesday Too Scared to Watch It Twice: Week Four
We’ve reached the ends, kiddos. This week is the last edition of the Tuesday Too Scared to Watch It Twice. B-Sol and I have a treat for you this time around. We’ve chosen the same film. Gather ’round and pass your judgments, for we are terrified of Eli Roth’s Hostel.
To read previous week’s entries, please see the series page.
Me Me Me of This Here Site
I’m still not sure why I ever saw Hostel. It’s the very definition of torture porn, and I am ten thousand percent sure that there was never any chance I would like it, but I rented it and watched it in a dormer room in Southern Illinois. Mayhaps it’s that very Pokemon approach I take to horror movies: “Gotta see ‘em all.”
By now, it’s likely we’ve all seen this or at least know the story. A couple of incredibly irritating and offensive young Americans end up at a hostel in Eastern Europe where they think they will be able to bed many adventurous young women. (Though, I am relatively sure that any woman who sleeps with either of these jerkos should be kicked out of the women’s club forever and always.) Instead they become the victims of torture and abuse in macabre house of horrors.
When B-Sol and I were debating films to write about for this series, we both touched on the same theme in Hostel that makes it so hard to stomach. This is, without a doubt, the most hateful film I have ever seen. Even before the boys end up in the torture chamber, the movie is filled with hate. Primarily, our American tourists hate women. A more sexist mindset would suggest they love women, but they have no interest in women as individual people with identities all their own. They see women as tools designed only for their own pleasure, and within twenty minutes, I was sure I was going to hate this movie.
In addition to the hatred displayed by our protagonists, hatred is heaped upon them as well. As they become the victims of extremely brutal violence, each boy is made the object of Ameriphobic hatred. (I think I just made that word up.) It’s even stated that Americans fetch more money because everyone wants to torture an American. And really, who can blame them? If we are how this film represents us, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t choose us for the torture and maiming.
Ultimately what makes it such a horrible movie is the level of unbelievability. I mean, okay, so the woman’s face is all mangled, and her eyeball is hanging out. What do you do? You certainly don’t cut her eyeball off! This is just another moment wherein you are supposed to ingest male mutilation of the female body. And while I can watch a Friday the 13th movie with the best of them, I cannot intake this much hatred. There is wanton glee and disregard for the destruction of the female person and the female form.
As I am sure some of you will argue, there is also a great deal of abuse heaped on the male form. Yes, this is true. But none of it is with such disregard for the human being. The males at least have character and identity. The women exist purely as tools, and as a result of this, I cannot stomach ever seeing it again. The film has ruined me in a number of ways, but the one I am most grateful for? I now hate Eli Roth. I consider that a blessing.
And B-Sol of The Vault of Horror‘s Take
Watching Hostel was one of those watershed moments for me. One of those, “OK, am I getting too old for this shit?” kind of moments. I had long considered myself something of a gorehound. It was never my favorite kind of horror, but I took pride as a young horrorphile in seeking out the most depraved and nasty flicks I could get my grimy hands on. I didn’t realize how much I had changed, until the day I got those hands on Eli Roth’s Hostel.
It had been lent to me by a guy at work. You know the situation: “Hey, man. You like horror, right? OK, well, you should check this out!” So I did. As I look back on it now, that was a mistake. Because seeing Hostel was an experience that taught me that my tastes had changed, and even led me to slightly rethink what being a horror fan even meant for me.
Simply put, Hostel is an ugly film. A cynical, brutish movie that is depressing at its core. There is no entertainment value to be had, and it leaves the viewer with the urge to take a shower of Joan Crawford proportions. The plot is non-existent, and once we get past the boring and utterly odious “frat boys on vacation in Eastern Europe” portion, we get to something far more odious.
This film is the very definition of torture porn, containing scene after scene of unrelenting graphic violence put on display for no other reason than to shock and titillate. To some, that may be the clarion call to horror nirvana, but I have to say, it isn’t for me. It certainly isn’t now, and I’m not sure it ever was to this degree. This is a film that wallows in the very worst of human nature, and does so for no other reason than to get a few kicks.
I can remember sitting there thinking, “Why the hell am I even watching this?” And this is coming from someone who would jump at an opportunity to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Zombi 2 or Dead Alive back in the day. Reveled in them. But this? No thanks. Am I too old? I don’t care. Too real, too cynical, and not fun, entertaining or even thought-provoking in the slightest.
Call me a horror prude. Call me a stick in the mud. Call me out of touch. But I plan to never go near Hostel again, as it represents for me the very worst and lowest common denominator of what this great genre has to offer.