Zombos Says: Very Good
Thank you. It's very exciting for me to be here, especially since I know that there are some people from Slovakia who probably want to kill me for making this movie. In America, Hostel is a very terrifying horror film for many people, but I truly believe it could become one of the great comedy classics here in Eastern Europe. I'm sure you have questions, and about why I made Slovakia look like all of a sudden it's from the 1950s, and what it might do to the tourist industry in Slovakia, and I look forward to answering all your questions and hopefully I will not get tortured to death. (Eli Roth, 'Smash hit horror Hostel causes stir among citizens of sleepy Slovakia')
Whistling. I hate whistling in a horror movie. It's such a pleasant activity, a normal activity; one that reflects a satisfied, joyful—even exuberant state of mind in the whistler. That's why it's so frightening and effective in the opening scene of Hostel. To hear that simple tune casually whistled by one of the "janitors" as he nonchalantly cleans the guest suites, routinely rinsing away the red splatter and body chunks down a drain, will freeze your blood. Just another day at work: just another day in hell; especially for the tourists. And you thought the plane trip was torture.This chilling contrast between the innocuous whistling and the gory evidence of disturbing activity is frightening, setting the gruesome tone for the film. Callous indifference is the theme here with people unconcerned that intense suffering and death are their job. They make money from it so it's okay; providing human cattle to be slaughtered by bored Über-rich seeking ever more intense emotional experiences, dehumanizing themselves in their avid consumerism.
What redeems this film from being a gratuitous exercise in explicit gore and sadistic violence is Paxton, the survivor. He starts out as another hedonistic consumer, but gains a precious sense of his soul while losing two fingers along the way. He is forced to care: he cares enough to take time while escaping to pick up his severed fingers; he also cares enough to rush back into the charnel house, after narrowly escaping the caress of a chainsaw, to save a girl he hardly knows.
His decision sets up one of the more intense and nauseating scenes in a film filled with them. When he finds her, she is missing half of her face, and one eye dangles precariously from its now burned-out socket. That dangling eye does present a problem. Okay, what do you do? At this point I had my hands over my eyes, but through my fingers I could see the flash of scissors as Paxton decides what he must do. You know what's coming, but Roth extends the tense moment into an excruciating eternity.
Roth tickles our fear-bone: the fear comes from being helpless while someone can commit any form of injury on you, and fear also comes from the knowledge that the amoral townsfolk in this creepy village gladly share in this consumerism-from-hell scenario. Even the children are sadistic monsters, roaming the town and demanding tribute; willing to harm or kill for a bag of candy. Being a foreigner in Hostel is a death sentence. The chilling words spoken to Paxton by one of the rich clients sums up the moral decay best: “Be careful: you could spend all your money in there.”
But after a film like Hostel, where do you go? How much torture and depravity can an audience take in a horror film? I'm sure Roth will try and find out.
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