Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hostel

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Okay I finally got to watch Hostel, and though I’ve heard a lot about the film I wanted to see it for myself. I was curious, and wanted to see what all the hype was about. I saw it for free on Showtime on Demand while the kiddies were away. I like horror films, but lately my tastes have been a bit eclectic, and for me to like a horror movie it better deliver on several levels. Unfortunately Hostel did not for me. The movie started off like a typical horror film. It sure had its quota of T&A, but it did feel like a paint by numbers kind of film, and for a horror film to be effective it needs to get visceral and hold nothing back. Now I know what you’re thinking. Did he see the same film I saw? I mean the gore factor was heavy. Wasn't the gore visceral enough? The answer is no. I see that type of gore and it does not faze me. Now you’re asking have I become de-sensitized to the violence? I mean can a person become so de-sensitized to the violence that he or she isn’t repulsed by the images of violence? In this current generation I would say yes. Especially with this generation’s infatuation with video games, but for me it’s all fake and all I hear is the director yelling “more blood”.

I’ve worked on several low-budget films where one film tried to push the envelop on gore, or T&A, and no matter what filmmakers do all I see is rubber appliances. Nothing more. Some quick cuts and loud music along with a loud effects track pushes the audience into “the in your face” shock scene. In the theaters this may make the audience jump, and scream, but played on video I just don’t see the terror in it.

You want suspense, and a creepy feeling go see movies like “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, or the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Even the original “Halloween” had a sense of terror and shock that few horror films of today have. Is there any original horror being done today that is good? Some of the South Korean horror films have struck original notes, and even some small American independent films have been successful in the terror genre.

Actually Hostel follows a true and tried formula and try’s to take it to the extreme. Some label it “torture-porn”, and they may have a point, but its just studios trying to take it to the next level, because of our obsession with reality TV. Today we expect our wars to be delivered to us 24/7 via cable news, and the Internet. News shows lead off with stories of murder and death or something I like to call “scanner journalism”. What it is is producers listening on police & fire radio scanners and dispatching news crews. The famous words “if it bleeds, it leads” is nothing new. Sensationalism, fear are the sellers of today’s market, and it has leaked into our horror movies as well.

In the end Hostel is just another horror movie that doesn't deliver. At the end our reluctant hero seeks revenge on the people or person who did him wrong, and he does so with vengeance. The hunted becomes the hunter, and our hero becomes just as violent as his tormentors had been. There is a pay-off, and nothing new is said. It is our reward after sitting through some over the top gore scenes. The fault of Hostel is that I really couldn't’t care less for any of the characters, and maybe that’s its problem. In horror movies you identify with the protagonist is some way. Here you do not. Everyone is one-dimensional, and at the end of Hostel though our hero has managed to escape you really don’t care. I heard that they did a Hostel 2, so apparently the formula worked and money was made, but if they continue to follow the same formula I would wager a bet that the audience will get tired of watching helpless victims being tortured. Eventually they would just move on to other movies or maybe they would get re-connected with the old classics, because classics never get old. Maybe it’s a lesson filmmakers need to take to heart.

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