Businessman: I always wanted to be a surgeon. But the boards would not pass me. Can you guess why? You see? So I went into business. But business is so boring. You buy things you sell them, you make money you spend money. What kind of life is that? A surgeon, he holds the very essence of life in his hands - your life. He touches it.

Victim: Please just let me go, please...

Businessman: You want to go? Is that what you want?

- hostel

hostel is out on dvd. hostel was one of those movies where most people saw the gore, but couldn't really appreciate the politics behind it all. sure, the gore is fun. i mean, people getting their fingers cut off and eyes gouged out and run over by cars is fun. but the real meat of the movie lies in eli roth's script, where he had said he'd wanted to incorporate a lot of what was going on in the world today, politically.

the movie, at its core, is about two jackass american tourists, paxton and josh, and their equally obnoxious side-kick, oli. and by jackass, i mean they represent every single annoying, beligerant, misogynistic tourist out there that gives travellers a bad name. they spend all their time boozing and womanizing in amsterdam. if you've managed to travel to another country, you've probably seen these types around at the local hostels. or maybe you were one of these types. i know i have at one point or another, which i am ashamed to say.

anyway, the first forty minutes of the movie is nothing like a horror film. it's like a russ meyers film where there's nothing but naked women and drinking. however, eventually the three men come across a man who tells them of a hostel where anything they want can be theirs for the taking. the three men eventually go to this hostel and run into a pair of women who basically bait them into various horrors. this hostel, it turns out, is a place where if you have enough money, you can do whatever you want to another human being, from torture to mutilation to murder.

so that's the basics. lots of gore, lots of nudity, lots of bizarre moments. but there's more to this movie. eli roth, the director and writer, said in an interview that he had wanted to incorporate what was going on in the world today into his script. he had wanted to turn the tables on his two main characters, who are american. he wanted to show how americans, so used to dominating other countries and other people, would feel if they were suddenly no longer in control. eli wanted to challenge america's superiority complex. (eli, it should be noted, is an american, so this isn't about america bashing, it's more about questioning behaviors and methods that america seems to have adopted over the last fifty years).

consider, for example, how the cost to kill someone varies depending on their nationality. americans, of course, are worth the most to kill, and sought after by these wealthy business men who have experienced everything except killing someone. consider another scene where a man begs for his life, trying to plead with his german torturer, by speaking german. it's sort of twisted to see an american beg for his life in the tongue of the nazis while his torturer stands over him with a chainsaw.

at any rate, the politics may be skin deep at times, but at least eli roth is offering us something more. the best part of the movie, however, is the fact that the protagonist is not a completely helpless victim. usually, in horror movies, the bad guys spend all the time chasing and the good guys spend all their time running. well in hostel, the good guy finally starts to fight back, and it's quite fun to watch. you find yourself sitting there, hoping he'd fight back and just kill the bad guys for once, and amazingly, he does.