Monday, January 30, 2006

Inspired to post by "Hostel"?!

The fan base for horror films is too loyal. And there are not enough movies released to satisfy the interest in the genre. That is my own little equation that leads to crappy product, and even crappier sequals. I saw a trailer for "Final Destination III", revolving around the premise of a terrifying roller coaster. And the trailer for "When a Stranger Calls", that actually has the police tracing the phone call to the inside of the house. Are you kidding?! Even movies with a solid premise, like "Saw", seem to get by on premise alone, with no need to follow through with a satisfying story. And then there are the letdown remakes, from "Amityville" to "House of Wax". The bar is scraping the floor.

But in the midst of all this garbage, a fun little horror movie came along. For all you horror fans, I say check out "Hostel". It is actually a playful premise, some solid casting, and mostly enjoyable storytelling. 3 guys, two friends from America, and one goofy European extrovert, are looking for trouble in Amsterdam. They enjoy some sex and drugs, but are told that the holy grail of sin is in a small Hostel in Slovakia. Less Americans go there, so they are highly in demand. So far so good, right?

The film's Slovakia is mysterious, seductive, and dangerous. It is fun to watch these guys walk straight into trouble, and the menace that hides under the surface is brutal and surprising. There is a ton of gore, but that exists with a story that remains suspenseful, not in place of it. What also set this film apart was strong casting. The two Americans, played by Derek Richardson and Jay Hernandez, give strong and even subtle performances. Especially Jay Hernandez, who I remember seeing in the Kirsten Dunst romantic drama "Crazy/Beautiful". It struck me that Jay Hernandez gave a much stronger performance then is expected in a teen drama, and I am again impressed by what he brought to a horror film.

"Hostel" has some flaws. There are some real awkward expository scenes, which are completely unnecessary for the story anyways. And the final 20 minutes loses alot of tension, just when you hope it would crank it up. But overall, this is definitely the most enjoyable film so far in '06. I plan on checking out director Eli Roth's other film, "Cabin Fever", and hope it is in the same spirit.

Oh, and on a side note, Barbara Nedeljakova, who plays the dark haired Russian/Slovakian seductress...there is nothing wrong with her. Not a thing.


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