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July 31, 2007

I did something truly shameful this weekend.

I was in the hunt for a movie (bottle of Rioja on the go, empty gaff, nowt on the crystal bucket of any note, and that ‘here I am now, entertain me’ attitude). Nothing taxing, mind. Good job, as I took home Hostel, some schlock horror frippery dressed up to look like a proper movie. After watching it, I put it back in the wrapper and returned it, telling the Customer Services people at the shop that it was put in my trolley in error by my daughter. Voila! A refund.

Now, OK, first impressions would tell you that this is a fairly indefensible thing to do, and I guess I’d have a lot of sympathy with that opinion, but let’s examine the evidence.

Hostel – when it finally gets around to being comprehensible – is about the murder tourism business. You know, the thrill-kill industry.

Two dumb, cultureless Americans (the first line of the movie sees them stumbling into the Dutch night, shouting ‘Amsterdam, motherfucker!’) are after some serious Euro poontang, and decide to go to Slovakia to get it. The women there are apparently desperate for dimwitted clean-toothed simpletons from the USA. They’ll do anything for the Yankee dollar, including spreading their legs like the good sports they are. Fortunately, they all look like swimwear models.

So that’s good.

Unfortunately, they also happen to be honey traps for the above-mentioned rip-’em-up entrepreneurs, which is not so good. So, at Slovakia our heroes (dumb Josh and dumber Paxton – which is surely a girl’s name – two thick as congealed hamburger fat good ol’ boys) duly arrive, and immediately they get their rocks off, they get offed. Well, Josh does, drugged and sent to the standard, shadowy, water-dripping-buzz-saws-echoing dungeon; he’s chained up, drilled into, cut, torn apart, mocked, humiliated and basically given a rather stern lecture about the impact of the surrealist poetry of Štefan Žáry, Ján Brezina and Pavel Bunčák. OK, I made that last bit up. He’s pretty much taken to pieces and a jolly good thing it is too. These guys are horrendous. It made me think that all philistines should be dealt with in this way. Know nothing about Kafka? Decapitation. Not too hot on Shakespeare? Disembowelling. Don’t know your Almodóvar from your Truffaut? Crucifixion. I’m serious. And so would you be if you saw Hostel. Josh and Paxton display such atrocious lapses in the simplest cultural interactions (nobody says Please or Thank You, ever) that were this not a movie about people who kill and torture for large sums of money, you’d want to invent some, just to throttle the ignorant loudmouthed little shits.

It’s not their fault, I suppose. This is a movie, after all that says the women in Slovakia will fuck anything “because of the war”. Yeah, you’ll remember the war in Slovakia? Er, it was squeezed into that period between the peaceful end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, between the peaceful Velvet Revolution, between the peaceful dissolution of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993 during the peaceful Velvet Divorce, and between becoming (peacefully) a member of the European Union in 2004. That war. Remember? So, it’s not only the characters in this that are fucking ignorant. The driving force behind this xenophobic, witless piece of shit is the director Eli Roth, who made the only OK Cabin Fever (well, I laughed. Once). In the behind-the-scenes diaries in the Extras, he comes across as the worst American export since Don Simpson. And that’s pretty bad. He’s foul-mouthed, thick, intolerant, thick, distrustful (he won’t shake the hand of a Czech FX guy who suggest he may have a cold), thick, thick and thick. And he has a go at perfectly fine none-hole-in-the-ground Euro loos, the true sign of the anecdotally bereft. He’s a real piece of work.

Anyway, he transfers this thickness to ‘Paxton’ (American men can’t really be called that, can they?) who toddles along to the murder factory, dragged along by the lovely Natalya who, and this is as good a telling sociological point as can be made, looks ever-so slightly less gorgeous without makeup (really, that’s it). A great, hulking 70s-style concrete pile in the middle of scrubland, the factory is presided over by identikit baldy body-builder bouncers who all wear leather jackets. They pass the victims on to baldy, asthmatic losers to cut up. Asthma, as we know in films, equates to freak. Baldness is as bad as paedophilia.

Paxton, the dumb shit, walks in blithely. He sees Josh on the slab and is actually surprised. At this point I really wanted him to be cut into handy freezer-sized chunks. It would have kept me going through the winter and provided a handy alternative to turkey on Christmas day. But, no. He gets away, kills some bad guys and that’s about it.

This is dreadful, probably the worst film I’ve seen in years. It’s even worse than Apocalypto, and that’s saying something.

I did something truly shameful this weekend. I watched Hostel.

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