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Friday, January 06, 2006


The always suave and debonair Josh, who works at the Essex Outlet Cinemas when he is not in college, asked me what the first line of my review for Hostel would be. Hmmm, I pondered. I suppose I would have to say it is the best movie I have ever seen that features graphic footage of a man cutting the mutilated eyeball out of a woman's eye socket so they can escape future torture. And if that titilates you in the least then you are probably ripe for this flick.

I reluctantly crept into the Essex Outlet Cinemas on opening day of Hostel expecting to see only a few suspect looking men wearing rain coats, scattered about the theater (much as I would imagine one would find in a porno theater of the '70s), but instead I found a very crowded afternoon bunch, mostly young people, some in couples, others in packs of six or eight. A date movie, I thought? This is a film that brags in its' advertising about the gore it promises to dish out. Nothing says "I love you" like taking your girlfriend to see a good decapitation or two.

Hostel is a story about a trio of young guys who have been spending their summer traveling throughout Europe doing what 20-something young men do best. They have been basically focusing every day on two things: getting high and looking for sex. Paxton (top billed Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson of Dumb and Dumberer fame or infamy depending on your point of view) are Americans and Oli (Etythor Gudjonsson, 37, in his debut as the world's oldest recent high school grad) is Icelandic. They met along the trail and have joined forces with an ultimate plan to spend the final week of summer together in Barcelona, where the promise of a huge orgy of available women awaits. Meanwhile the three are more than happy to explore new places in search of nightly conquests along the way. In Amsterdam they meet a nerdy little fellow in a bar who shows them pictures on his cell phone of himself with a bevy of nude beauties, all far beyond his social grasp. He explains that they are from a town in rural Slovenia, where the women are mad for Americans in particular and will throw themselves at any man who is not part of the dreary local stock. Naturally, there would be no story unless these dimbulbs took the bait. Quicker than you can say "uh-oh" they are on the train to the burg where they find that the women are indeed big-breasted and more than eager to offer themselves up for sex. As a matter of fact, the first half of Hostel, which was produced by Mike Fleiss (Heidi's cousin), seems more like a soft-core porn film than a horror extravaganza. Boobs bounce, butts shake, tongues are stuck just about everywhere, but nary a drop of blood is spilled (though a few other bodily fluids, if not on display, are certainly on the mind, if you know what I mean, and I'm sure that you do, and please bring Handiwipes the next time you stay at this Hostel ~ ewwww).

Finally, just when it seems the Hostel is about as hostile as Petticoat Junction things pick up. First Oli goes missing, but the front desk clerk explains that he checked out earlier that morning. Despite their best efforts to track him down Paxton and Josh have no luck and take no solace when the next day they receive a text message from Oli saying that he has gone home without any further explanation.

That night the boys decide to drown their sorrows over their lost friend the way guys do best, by getting drunk and going out with the two hot babes from the Hostel who have already played "chutes and ladders" with them the night before. Natalya (Barbora Nedeljáková) and Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova) work their magic again, but this time separating Josh from Paxton. Can you say "date rape drug?"

And so begins Josh and Paxton's not-so-excellent adventure. I won't spoil it for you by revealing too many of the "special" moments, but let's just say that the girls are basically recruiters (you might even call them "headhunters") for their firm, a unique service that allows those with a lot of money the opportunity to enjoy their sicker fantasies by watching them come true with complete strangers. Fortunately, the audience gets to do it for a whole lot less money, and with popcorn to boot!

You may get the impression that I didn't care much for Hostel, but the truth is that it did have its' moments. I especially enjoyed the last half-hour or so, which had a few scenes that were reminiscent of something you'd see in a good Hitchcock thriller. I was actually scooting forward in my seat, as if that was going to help our hapless hero, Paxton, in his escape attempts. I probably could have done with less boobs in the first half and more action, but it definitely kept the attention of the audience I saw it with and the male staff of the Essex Outlet Cinemas as well. I talked with a few of the boys after the movie and they all had caught a glimpse here and there while checking in on the theater during the various screenings and they all seemed to think this was a great travelogue and promoted positive American and European relations. I suspect that if they had come in during the second half of the movie they would have wanted to rethink that. Me. I'm too old and too spoiled to stay in a Hostel anyway. If I go to Europe I'll look in a mirror when I want to see boobs and I'll do it at a Sheraton, thank you very much.

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