oh my goodness. i sometimes wonder (usually about halfway through the movie, which is way too late, because by then i'm in the movie and i need to have it finished) whether being desensitised to screen horror is a good thing or not. it's good in a way - i'm not shocked or disturbed by the news anymore - and it also means i can decide if a story is worth seeing and hearing, on its own merits and depiction aside.
hostel is like that. i loved eli roth's film cabin fever (so much i bought it at video ezy on the way to the cinema) and i was interested to see what he did with this one. like the aristocrats, i had heard a lot of bad stuff about this movie. the depiction of violence i didn't find as stomach-turning as a lot of other people might, and i think this is because hostel is incredibly similar to a number of short stories by authors like clive barker and christopher fowler. clive barker's "in the hills, the cities" had an element of surreal horror to it that hostel borrows heavily, that of people familiar to the audience who are lost in a foreign country at the mercy of the citizenry of that place. there is also an inevitability about the story that reminds one of christopher fowler's short story about a man who, returning to his car in a parking garage, cannot escape the unseen horrors driving him towards his own death.
hostel has no surprises, except in the techniques of gore used in its torture set pieces, and the acting is adequate for the story. note roth in a cameo at the beginning of the movie (would've been nice to see him on the butcher's trolley near the end!) and the ugly american character that pax runs into in the change rooms is a similar character who pays to get on the doomed bus in the day after tomorrow, played by the same actor (whose name escapes me).
two and a half stars from me. not as good as cabin fever, and my greatest regret in seeing this film was missing the preview of the one new film that showed in the trailers. v for vendetta (even though it is based on comic book, i think) looks like it will be quite good, the little i saw of it. the question is, given the smorgasbord of human terrors available to us, why do we need remakes of the hills have eyes and when a stranger calls?