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'HOSTEL' DELIVERS ON GOOD, SICK FUN.

Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic

I ALWAYS THOUGHT it was weird that they called those flophouses for young backpackers hostels. The word just doesn't have a welcoming ring, does it?

Horrormeister Eli Roth (``Cabin Fever'') evidently feels the same way. His latest release, called ``Hostel,'' starts off as the best dang Eurotrip two American guys, and their new buddy from Iceland, could ever dream of, then turns into a freaking nightmare of sadism, murder and revenge. Which is too bad for them, but pretty satisfyingly done for those who like to just groove on decadence and mayhem in the safety of a good ol' USA multiplex.

Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (``Dumb and Dumberer's'' Derek Richardson) are two pals who have almost been having the time of their lives knocking around Western Europe. The reason it's almost is because, unlike the wackazoid Nordic giant Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) they've hooked up with, our red-blooded lads aren't nailing as many continental hotties as they'd like to.

So a creepy guy in Amsterdam tells them about an extra-special hostel in remote Slovakia, where the women are all gorgeous and melt at the sound of American accents. The trio heads east and, voila, it's all true. They're assigned a room shared by the drop-dead gorgeous and usually naked Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) and Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova), who make the Yanks' night.

But when Oli turns up missing the morning after, it's just the start of a sinister series of events. The town, it appears, supports a much more lucrative kind of tourist attraction. One that involves dungeons, surgical instruments and, if you want to bother to lend some kind of sociopolitical metaphor to the disgusting carnage, impoverished, post-communist Eastern Europe's payback to the smug, comfortable West.

But really, when ``Hostel'' isn't about exposing Slavic flesh, it's all about rending parts from bodies in the most painful manner imaginable. But Roth differs from a lot of contemporary torment-horror filmmakers in that he has a knack for persuasive storytelling and knows how to film gross-out porn suspensefully, not just grotesquely.

Quentin Tarantino was an executive producer of ``Hostel,'' and some of the film's earlier abuses employ the expert, don't-really-show-it aesthetic of the ear amputation scene in ``Reservoir Dogs.'' But Roth is not one to hold back the, um, goods for long. By the time the chain saw and blowtorch get broken out, you could not ask for more graphic defilement. Nor would you want to.

But it all adds up to superior sick entertainment. And that's only enhanced by the late arrival of the ingeniously irritating Rick Hoffman (``Cellular,'' TV's ``Jake in Progress'') as the ultimate ugly American tourist. Keep an eye out for him. He'll definitely have one out for you.

Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670

bob.strauss(at)dailynews.com

HOSTEL - Three stars

(R: violence, nudity, sex, drug use, language, children in jeopardy)

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Jan Vlasak, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jennifer Lim, Rick Hoffman.

Director: Eli Roth.

Running time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Playing: In wide release.

In a nutshell: Sex, drugs, torture and dismemberment. If that's your idea of the perfect European vacation, this is the guilty pleasure horror movie for you.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 6, 2006
Words:531
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