Eli Roth's Hostel is being described by some critics as "horror porn." That means it is exists to encourage and excite our baser appetites by serving up killings, mutilations, and torture—not to mention explicit scenes of sexual misbehavior—for our "entertainment." It's all designed to shock and to horrify audiences.
Guess what? Hostel is also the No. 1 film in America, tops at the box office. That means we're bound to see a lot more of this kind of thing over the next few years, in which other movies try to outdo Hostel—and the two Saw movies—with increasingly intense and explicit violence.
Hostel is about three hedonistic fools who indulge in all manner of unethical pleasures until they find themselves trapped in a game where others fulfill their own appetites for cruelty by torturing human beings and killing them in slow and grisly ways—decapitations, throats slit, heads smashed in, digits being cut off and body parts diced and tossed into a furnace, point-blank shootings, eyes being pulled from sockets, flesh drilled full of holes, a person throwing herself in front of a train, and more. It seems designed to delight people who share the unhealthy appetites of the movie's villains.
Nathan Lee of The New York Times says Roth's immature revelry isn't even good at scaring people. "Inspired by the brutal exploitation pictures of the 1970's and the nasty new breed of Asian horror films, Hostel is motivated by an adolescent urge to shock. And while it's true that no civilized person will remain unscathed by the film's relentless bigotry—this is one of the most misogynistic films ever made—Mr. Roth's gory spectacles are too calculated to deliver the transgressive jolts they so obviously ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more