Presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & 2) and directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), Hostel is a shocking and relentless film in the tradition of Saw about two American backpackers (Jay Hernandez, Friday Night Lights and Derek Richardson, Dumb and Dumberer) in Europe who find themselves lured in as victims of a murder-for-profit business. Paxton and Josh, two college friends, are lured by a fellow traveler to what's described as a nirvana for American backpackers -- a particular hostel in an out-of-the-way Slovakian town stocked with Eastern European women as desperate as they are gorgeous. The two friends arrive and soon easily pair off with exotic beauties Natalya and Svetlana. In fact, too easily... Initially distracted by the good time they're having, the two Americans quickly find themselves trapped in an increasingly sinister situation that they will discover is as wide and as deep as the darkest, sickest recess of human nature itself -- if they survive.
The first question most fans will ask is, "Where is the unrated footage?" Surprisingly, the only new footage to be found is 30 seconds added to the Fulci-esque "eyegasm" sequence (as it's affectionately referred to in the executive producers' commentary.) The meat, shall we say, of the DVD is in the extras, particularly in "HOSTEL Dissected" (a three part "making of" featurette) and the four feature-length commentaries. The featurette is very amusing mainly because of the wicked irony of the film crew having so much fun making a film whose subject manner is so graphic and unsettling. Some of the highlights include Eli Roth joking at a press conference about Icelandic actor Eythor Gudjonsson ("Oli") and how he is going to replace Björk as Iceland's big star, only to be picked up on Icelandic news as a confrontational proclamation. Also priceless is Roth telling actress Jennifer Lim ("Kana") that Hostel
is inspired by true events about a similar place in Thailand, and she gullibly eats it up. The best extra by far is the executive producer's feature length commentary with Quentin Tarantino. During the film they discuss many topics including whether Hostel
is a "horror" film or a "thriller," how they got away with an R rating, why the new breed of highly graphic horror films are so popular, why European actresses are less uptight about nudity, director Takashi Miike's cameo, and all the extra grossed-out ideas they never filmed but would love to add. Looking at Hostel
you would think they're all a bunch of sadistic and creepy guys, but after listening to their commentary, nothing could be further from the truth. They all simply just love the horror genre, love filmmaking and are having a blast making their movies. What is great about the extras on this DVD is they really breathe life into the filmmakers' personalities and thought processes. If you think that Hotel
is a simple soft-core torture film, watching the extras and listening to the commentaries may help change your perspective. --Rob Bracco