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July 13, 2010

Movie analysis: Hostel

The art of horror is ancient in form, and has been around since man has been able to spin terrifying tales around the campfire. The need to be scared is innate in our nature since we no longer use our “fight or flight” response on a daily basis, as we did when we were hunters, having to determine whether to kill or run from wild prey to survive. In the deepest recesses of our brains, we still crave the adrenalin rush we can get from a really good horror flick.

Since 1922, when the German vampire film Nosferatu was released, audiences have been flocking to horror movies for a cheap thrill and a scare. Thereafter, horror and suspense films have had a solid following and movie studios have followed suit by giving the public what they crave. Hostel, despite its graphic violence and gore, has a clear message and story that drives the movie at a heart-pounding pace.

Hostel was released in 2005, and was written and directed by Eli Roth. In a recent television interview, Roth indicated his idea for the script came from stumbling upon a far eastern website that offered the opportunity to kill another human being by gunshot for a large sum of money. Hostel is the story of two typical American college students, who travel by backpack through Europe, staying at youth hostels along the way. They are too easily lured by sex, drink, and drugs, and a shady Icelandic friend they have met along the way. They are not really paying attention to what is going on around them and find themselves trapped in a sick and twisted horror factory where rich businessmen from all over the world pay large sums of money to torture young people.

On its most basic level, Hostel is a cautionary tale in its presentation, as it reminds us that that we can lose our way very easily in this vast world and in so doing, put ourselves in harms way. Of course, there are youth hostels all over Europe with wonderful people in them and college students come and go constantly without incident. Nonetheless, being cautious, whether you are in a European Hostel or on an American sidewalk is important and part of Hostel’s broad message.

Of course, Hostel is intended to scare the living daylights out of us, which it does completely. It does so with another aspect of many good horror films: excellent special effects. The fact that many are so repelled by Hostel is an indicator of just how great the make-up, cinematography, and special effects are. This makes the film much more realistic and fascinating to watch. In conclusion, Hostel, and other horror movies cater to our deep need to feel adrenalin pumping through our bodies, and blood pumping through our veins; the very thing that makes us human.

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