PAXTON (HERNANDEZ) and Josh (Richardson), a couple of American college boys, decide to backpack across Europe, hoping to meet sexy European women and have the time of their lives. Along the way, they pick up Oli (Gudjonsson), a fun-loving Icelander, with whom they sample the delights of Amsterdam. While wallowing in sex and drugs there, they hear about a hostel in Slovakia where beautiful women will be at their service.
Once there, they meet two beauties (Nedeljakova and Kaderabkova). Then Oli goes missing. Josh genuinely worries that he may be in some kind of trouble, Paxton shrugs it off, but then he is separated from Josh, who also vanishes. They have fallen prey to a grim organisation whose clients pay to torture young backpackers to death. Will any of them survive?
The film’s first half is an astute look at Americans abroad, before Roth starts introducing shady characters and conspiratorial glances, building up sinister elements of the hostel, before leading to unspeakable horror. The film, with the “Quentin Tarantino presents” credit, is based on monsters from the internet age. Roth says the idea for the film came from a site where, for 10,000 dollars, you could kill someone in Thailand. It’s an idea he considered for a documentary, but instead worked into a feature, with the patronage and branding of Tarantino.
The characters aren’t loveable, they are true-to-life, however, none of this is particularly new in horror cinema. Young people debauching themselves and paying for it with their lives is a staple of the genre. Is there a point? No. Hostel has no reason to exist.
Rating * *