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2005's best movies

Our fast-Paised take on the Top 10 films of the year.
More Top 10 lists:
Michael Wilmington
Michael Phillips
Robert K. Elder
Allison Benedikt
fast-paised film

Quick reviews of:
• Big Momma's House 2
• When a Stranger Calls
• Something New
• Imagine Me and You
• The World's Fastest Indian
• The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
• Going Shopping
• Annapolis
• Nanny McPhee
• Bubble
• The New World
• Last Holiday
• Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
• The Real Dirt on Farmer John
• Hostel
• Glory Road
• Tristan and Isolde
• Cache
• Rumor Has It...
• Match Point
• The Matador
• Casanova
• Munich
• The Ringer
• Gilles' Wife
• Fun w/Dick and Jane
• Cheaper/Dozen 2
• King Kong
• Brokeback Mountain
• Memoirs of a Geisha
• The Producers
• Syriana
• Chronicles of Narnia
• 39 Pounds of Love
• Aeon Flux
• First Descent
• The Kid & I
• Rent
• The Ice Harvest
• Just Friends
• Harry Potter
• Walk the Line
• Bee Season
• Squid and the Whale
• The Weather Man
• Shopgirl
Plus interviews:
• Sanaa Lathan tries something new
• Albert Brooks looks for comedy
• Hear from the stars of "Glory Road"
• What scares "Hostel" director Eli Roth?
• Our interview with Cameron Crowe
• Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch turns to acting
• Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman
more movies

coming soon

movie review search
Read reviews of films from 2002-2005
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movie reviews
Movies in bold received 4 stars.
39 Pounds Love
A Good Woman
Ballets Russes
Bee Season
Be Here to Love Me
Breakfast on Pluto
Brokeback Mountain
Cafe Lumiere
Cheaper by the Dozen 2
Chicken Little
Christmas in the Clouds
Duane Hopwood
Ellie Parker
Emmanuel's Gift
End of the Spear
Far Side of the Moon
First Descent
Fun with Dick and Jane
Gay Sex in the '70s
Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Gilles' Wife
Glory Road
God's Sandbox
Going Shopping
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Imagine Me and You
In Her Shoes
Innocent Voices
Just Friends
King Kong
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Kung Fu Hustle
Last Holiday
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
Match Point
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Nanny McPhee
Never Been Thawed
Nine Lives
North Country
Paradise Now
Pride & Prejudice
Protocols of Zion
Regular or Super: Views on Mies van der Rohe
Roving Mars
Rumor Has It...
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
Saw 2
Something New
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Dying Gaul
The Family Stone
The Ice Harvest
The Kid & I
The Legend of Zorro
The Matador
The New World
The Passenger
The Producers
The Real Dirt on Farmer John
The Ringer
The Squid and the Whale
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The War Within
The White Countess
The World's Fastest Indian
Tristan and Isolde
Walk the Line
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Where the Truth Lies
Wolf Creek
Yours, Mine and Ours


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The next big thrill

“Hostel” director Eli Roth muses on exploitation, America’s superiority complex and getting a really good scare
related stories
Fast-Paised review: ‘Hostel'
'Hostel' Trailer
'Hostel' Trailer
(Lions Gate Releasing)


Eli Roth is disturbed.

Not as a person, of course, though his tight, skull-bearing T-shirt--proclaiming that to fear death is to fear life--could make some people nervous. Rather, the writer/director of "Cabin Fever" is uneasy about a website he discovered dedicated to underground clubs in which, for a price, you can kill someone without consequences.

Is it real? He's not sure, but it inspired him to write "Hostel," an enormously disturbing horror-thriller about American college students living it up in Europe drawn against their will into one of these clubs.

"I saw things going on around me in the world that really disturbed me and freaked me out," Roth says. "This is not an exploitation film; it's a film about exploitation."

A slow burn

In the movie, naive American students played by Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson spend their time abroad drinking, doing drugs and pursuing girls--and ultimately, getting more than they bargained for.

"Hostel" takes its time reaching its grisly destination, employing the Japanese horror technique of a slow-burning first half that accelerates mid-movie into terror.

"I want the audience to get seduced the way the guys do," Roth says. "I want to lull the audience into identifying with these guys, so when it gets turned, [the audience] doesn't realize how f***ed up and sexist the guys were being," Roth says. "I want them to really feel that the rug's been pulled out."

Much of the film's tension early on comes from how the students interact with their foreign environment. "Americans really want everything spelled out for them," Roth says. "They don't have subtitles when you go to another country, and not everyone speaks English."

That American superiority complex extends to how the students treat women. "There's a real stereotype that I felt among guys that they can just go to Eastern Europe and buy and sell people," he says.

The film, he says, is a suspenseful and ultra-violent commentary on a society that gets off on dominating other people. "Everyone's looking for that next thrill. [The guys] basically wind up as the hookers in the window where somebody else is looking for that next thrill and using them to get it."

Not just scares

But Roth says he wanted "Hostel" to serve as more than just a good scare.

"I think there's no reason that horror movies shouldn't be about something," he says. "A lot of people just figure, 'Eh, it's a horror movie; just make it scary,' and that's fine. I love movies that are like that. But every now and then in the '70s there'd be movies like the George Romero films, where the horror is basically an allegory for where they felt society was going … and that's what I wanted to do."

Roth insists he's interested in telling stories, not just in making us squirm. "I don't try to say, 'OK, I'm gonna outgross myself,'" he says. "I just look at whatever story I'm telling and look at how much violence is required to tell that story."

"I'd love to make movies that are politically charged," he says. "I want to make movies about things that make me uncomfortable and that I'm afraid of."

That includes stories along the lines of "Syriana" and "Good Night, and Good Luck," he says.

"People go to the movies for escapist entertainment, and it's hard to get movies like that made," Roth says. "That's what's so cool about George Clooney. That guy stuck to his guns. He was one of the few people speaking out against the war, and now he's got [those movies] out. It can be done, it's just gotta be done well."

For now, Roth hopes "Hostel" resonates on multiple levels. "If people just want to watch it with their friends, jump, have a date movie, and grab their date's hand and scream and be freaked out with their friends, that's totally cool, and there's enough of that in this movie," he says.

"But the movies that I love are the movies that have that resonating scare that stays with you for days, that you just can't stop thinking about."

Originally published Jan. 5, 2006.

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