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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Too Scared to Watch It Twice: Week Four

Here we are at last, after more than a month of cowardly musings... The final installment of Tuesday Too Scared. And to commemorate the occasion, Missy Yearian of Chickapin Parish and myself have something special for you.

You see, this time, we've both chosen the same exact film to discuss. That's right, one movie that neither one of us ever has any desire to see again--albeit for different, and equally fascinating reasons. One film that has galvanized us both, for this, the last Tuesday Too Scared. So sit back and enjoy as we cringe in pain at the work of Eli Roth...

Hostel (2005)

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.

And now, Missy chimes in as well...

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.


Emily Louise Church said...

100% agreed, hate this movie!

Elgart said...

This movie is like 80% porn and 20% gruesome. You know what they say, s*x sells! No matter how crappy a movie is, as long as it shows off women's private parts and such, it's gonna sell.

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Evil said...

I didn't like the movie that much I never had so much hatred for it. Very interesting to hear two such very opinoanted views. I actually thought that Hostel didn't live up to the "Horror Porn" name and was very horrified by part II. Perhaps I should watch it again but it's a fine and open minded blog you have going here, best since Final Girl. Keep up the good and interesting writing and I'll be coming back


Mike said...

Movies like this - and their extreme popularity - make me want to crawl away, shut myself in my house with a stack of Lugosi/Karloff DVDs and stay the hell away from what's left of humanity.


Unknown said...

I didn't particularly hate this movie--the sequel, yes--but I'm in no hurry to watch it again. Just a downer of a film with very little comeuppance to be enjoyed at all.

Nick said...

Interesting one - particularly Missy's input, because I've often though that Hostel's saving grace is that the main characters-in-peril are male. Of course that's balanced against the early sex scenes and the eyeball, and the sequel more than compensated... but still, if you were trying to create the worst torture porn film scenario possible you'd at least start off with attractive young women in the spotlight, even if the rest of your plot mirrored Hostel precisely.

So I guess more accurately I ought to take back the 'saving grace' comment and say instead I've often been mystified as to why the lead characters are male, unless it's a deliberate attempt to make us think that the film must be trying to make some kind of statement. Oh, and I suppose it allows Roth to slip some homophobia in at the start.

Ryan said...

It seems to me that, in our culture, every time something disturbs or offends someone a label must be placed. Dangerous terms like "racist" and "misogynistic" are thrown around like candy confetti! To say Hostel is misogynistic is like saying thanksgiving dinner is glutenous! Yes there is a degree of misogyny, but it's not the main theme! How about the fact that two of the main villains are female! To say the film has no artistic merit is just plain wrong! Example: the contrast between the brothel in the first act and the torture factory in the third. Profound? Not terribly, but it certainly has artistic merit! Also, Hostel exhibits many virtuous messages along it's dark descent. A few examples are: the danger of over indulgence and mindless pleasure seeking, not being aware of your surroundings, and not taking heed when things seem to good to be true. Finally, Where Hostel shines more than most films of this nature is in the mother of all film virtues...REDEMPTION! Paxton's selflessness in the films finale is undeniable! And it was all to save a FEMALE! PS. Sorry for being long winded!

B-Sol said...

Nothing to be sorry about! This film obviously brings out a lot of passionate opinions!

Unknown said...

This movie is awful trash and its reassuring to hear other horror-fans call it out as such.

Unknown said...

I just want to add, I think it's unspeakably rotten for any move to offer such a will-nilly treatment of torture considering what was in the headlines at the time. I really think it's despicable Roth put this film out seeing the horror-show practices that were put into action by the upper levels of the US government.

It's shameful American audiences embraced this film in any way and in an fitting twist, sort of validates the movie's cartoonish depiction of Americans as boorish slobs.

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