Movies: Hostel

Yesterday we went to see Hostel, a new “Quentin Tarantino Presents” film written and directed by Eli Roth.

I had not read anything on the film, so had no real expectations going in except for Tarantino’s name on the film. I’m a big fan, so I’ll basically go see anything his name is on. Aside from that, however; I knew nothing about the film at all, not even the basic story line. I would recommend you go into the movie the same way. If you have read any of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or other review sites, you might find that you know too much to be as shocked as I was and that in a vague way too much of the plot is given away, even on the non-spoiler sites.

Now, on to the movie. The movie is about two kids, Josh and Paxton, going to college who have decided to take a backpacking trip through Europe. Along the way they have befriended an Icelandic man named Oli and the three of them are making their way through the Hostels in Europe, in search of, you guessed it, getting high and getting lucky with European women. Josh has just broken up with his girlfriend, so Paxton and Oli are trying to get him hooked up with someone along the trip to help him forget his problems.

They go out one night in Amsterdam and wind up being out after curfew and cannot get into their Hostel. They are taken in by a guy who smokes some pot with them and tells them about a Hostel not on the usual maps where the women love American men and “will do anything for them”. This is enough to get the three trekking towards this off the map Hostel.

Once they get to the new Hostel and check in, they go to their room, which is shared with two women. They are invited by the women to go to the spa with the three women and begin to have a good time. The women are very “hospitable” and Josh and Paxton get lucky with their respective female roommate as Oli (“The King of Swing”) finds someone to hook up with as the night ends.

Then Oli disappears. Checking at the desk, the boys are told that he checked out early this morning. The boys are worried and try repeatedly to call and leave notes for Oli, but he doesn’t respond. They are shown a picture of him that has been taken showing he went off with the girl he met. The guys think this is weird, as he made no effort to let them know he was leaving — and the girls invite Paxton and Josh to go to the disco with them to distract them from their fear for their friend.

At this point in the movie, you are absolutely convinced that this movie is your typical “freaky homicidal maniac kidnapping and killing people” type of movie. It isn’t — not by a long shot — and that is all I’m going to tell you about the plot of the movie. The rest you just have to see for yourself.

Here’s what I will tell you. The twist of what this movie is actually about is on the order of the The Sixth Sense, but about 100 times more disturbing. As we were walking out of the theater I was completely quiet, trying to come to terms with what I had just witnessed. I have never seen a movie that I found this disturbing and that I had thought about so much after the ending credits had rolled.

So to get to the bottom line, here’s the review. The movie is totally worth seeing and I’d give it at least 3.5 stars on a scale of 4. Rotten Tomatoes currently shows a 69% fresh rating. I’d give it higher than that, as I think its definitely original and not the same recycled plot lines that you find in your typical horror movies. Its definitely unique and extremely disturbing. The movie is full of nudity and what seems like gratuitous violence. As the plot unwinds, however, the violence seems less gratuitous (at least it did to me) and necessary in order to communicate the gravity of the final destination of the plot line.

Normally, I enjoy watching horror movies with Kelsi. I would definitely sit down and watch Saw with her, another movie that I really enjoyed for its originality and total non-hollywood feel it had. I’ve yet to find a horror movie that I wouldn’t buy and sit down and watch with Kelsi if I liked it.

Until now. I don’t think I ever want to see this movie again. I don’t want to watch it, and I don’t want to own it when it comes out on DVD. I think it was a great movie, but the final destination of the plot line is something I never, ever want to see again — as it explores what I think is the darkest side of human nature and one that, quite frankly, I would rather kid myself that it doesn’t exist.

So for me, the movie was extremely satisfying, in a warped way. I finally hit my limit as to what I am willing to watch in a movie — but for different reasons that what I have experienced in the past. Normally, I am frustrated at wasting money on stupid plot lines or over produced special effects that are there for the sake of having the effects. I usually have a movie push the limits I have around feeling like I’ve wasted my time.

My limit here was completely different. This movie had an interesting plot, let you get to know the characters well enough to care about them and then pushed you right over the edge. The subject matter was such that it was real enough that it could possibly happen and yet so disturbing that you don’t want to think about the fact that it could actually happen, if that makes any sense. In some ways, I felt that the subject matter was just one of those things that should never be put on film, which is satisfying in and of itself.

I would definitely recommend that those who don’t find nudity and a lot of violence patently offensive actually go to see the film for the experience. I was pretty blown away by it.

Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks with Geeks

Aside

Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software fame has announced the completion of the movie Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks with Geeks, a documentary chronicling the development of a software product called Aardvark. DVD preorders are being taken now for a ship date of December 1. The trailer is available on the project page and I have to say, it looks really cool from a geeks point of view. I think I’ll be preordering this one.

Movies: Saw II

Yesterday, Jonna and I went to see Saw II. I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while, as I loved the first movie. The things that I liked most about it was the really original story line and that it was made on a low budget, so the story was more important than the way the movie was shot. There is something really nice about a movie that tells the story in lieu of fancy editing and special effects.

Unfortunately, Saw II does not live up to the first one, in my opinion. The fancy editing completely turned me off, and l couldn’t get past it enough to enjoy what story there was in the movie.

Donnie Wahlberg leads the cast as a detective who is drawn into the Jigsaw case after his name is left at a crime scene. He has just had an argument with his son and has been trying to get a hold of him on the phone and is unable to do so. He is asked by his ex-partner to be a part of the investigation and somehow they find Jigsaw, sitting in his room sucking on oxygen. It winds up his son is one of 7 people included in the latest “game”. The rest of the movie is a lot of over the top editing and bad acting that completely ruins the rest of the story, so much so that I have a hard time even remembering the details because I was slowly getting more and more aggravated at how the movie jumped from one place to another.

Daniel Fienberg from Zap2it.com, says this in his review:

Coupled with the distancing cop/killer face-off, the erratic pace may cause some viewers to tune out long before the twisty ending that manages to be satisfying, if not surprising.

The erratic pace is what I hated most. I disagree with the “satisfying if not surprising” ending. The ending, once you see it, is a predictable and typical set up to continue the movie franchise long after it is relevant.

As I said earlier, the thing I liked the most about the first movie was its simplicity and its focus on the story. I thought the idea of “Jigsaw” was excellent and illustrated a hunger on the writers part to do something completely different. Saw II proves that you can only do that once and then Hollywood turns it into just another erratic, hard to follow, and badly acted waste of time.

Luckily for us, Jonna had a free ticket on her Regal Crown Club Card, so I don’t feel cheated out of money – only the time I spent in the theater that I could have spent more pleasantly getting my testicles twisted. The ticket we payed for doesn’t seem to be wasted as Jonna actually liked the movie. Go figure.

You can find more reviews on Rotten Tomatoes where the current fresh rating is at a very generous 38% fresh.

Emily Rose and Millenium Followup

[ This posting was written about a month ago (around 9/12) … I just ran out of things to write about, so I’m publishing this ]

I came across this article this morning. It seems that The Exorcism of Emily Rose has struck a chord with people (at least as far as getting them in the theater) as it grossed $30.2M over the weekend making it the third largest September opening ever, despite reviews that pretty much mirror mine.

Apparently I’m not the only one interested in the concept of exorcism — which makes me feel much more normal. 😉

Given the box office numbers though, I’m inclined to wonder what makes these types of movies so attractive to people that they have to go see it? I think that those who were raised hearing about how Satan and demons were the cause of everything bad are more inclined to go see them just out of the curiosity raised through years of hearing about it ad nauseum and finally being able to see something that was supposedly “true”. I think that I really like seeing other peoples interpretation of this phenomenon and the events that surround them.

Just to be clear, I do not believe in actual demonic possession. I do believe, however, that other people believe in it — and can believe in it so much that they can manifest behavior consistent with it if they do not learn to deal with the guilt instilled in them while being initiated, as a child or as an adult, into a religious group in which a fear of Satan forms much of the cornerstone of the doctrine that is taught.

Much of the above is why I also enjoyed the second season of Millennium so much this time around, while “not getting it” when it was actually on TV. Much of the content was around religious beliefs and the fulfilling of prophecy as believed by the “Millennium Group”. A lot of it had to do with what the Millennium Group was doing in order to ensure the outcomes that they believed would signal the end of the world. For some reason the second time around, that really intrigued me.

The second season of the show was quite different than the first. From what I have heard on interviews on the sets, Chris Carter became very busy with the X Files during the second season of Millennium and gave control over to Glenn Morgan and James Wong. The show became quite different than the first season, focusing on the Millennium Group and quite a bit of its religious philosophy and apocalyptic beliefs. Many of the shows took on an almost surreal atmosphere, very unrealistic and “out there”. One episode specifically (I can’t remember the episode but it was towards the end of the season) had very much of a “Natural Born Killers” feel to it — very random and disjointed.

Season Three
, which we started watching (we got through almost 3 discs), feels like a melding of Season 1 and Season 2. There is quite a bit of the religious and / or spiritual aspects to what we’ve seen so far, however it is much less surreal than Season 2, getting “back to the basics” of what made the first season so great.

I’m still a little disconnected from Season 3 as compared to Season 1, but I am still enjoying the shows.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Yesterday we went to see The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a movie based on the true story of a woman named Anneliese Michel, who died during a rite of exorcism. Her parents and the priests that performed the exorcism were charged with negligence and failure to provide first aid.

The movie tells the story of Emily Rose as a series of flashbacks taking place during the trial of the priest who performed the exorcism. The priest is persistent that he wants to be able to tell “Emily’s story” while the arch-diocese does not want him to testify, as they do not want to be embarrassed by the trial.

I wouldn’t characterize the movie as bad, but it is definitely something I would wait for video to see it. I think, for me, anything having to do with exorcism has always interested me, so I really wanted to see it. If you are expecting something along the lines of the outrageousness in The Exorcist, you’ll definitely be disappointed. This movie is not over the top at all and the trial story line is rather plodding.

Overall I think I liked the movie. I say ‘I think’ because I am normally quite polarized when I dislike a movie and get pissed when I’ve wasted my time on something that I didn’t like (Disclosure was one of those movies — after reading the book I saw the movie and was completely irritated at how they ruined the story that was so well told in the book).

When I walked out of this movie, I wasn’t irritated. I wasn’t real excited either. I just didn’t think it was necessarily a waste of time. It’s definitely not a movie to write home about, but it would make a good rental.

As I said earlier, its not The Exorcist and if thats what your looking for don’t waste your time. If you want to see a story that is “based on a true story” on the subject, wait for rental.

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