Watched Hostel Part II the other night on DVD. Nasty is not quite the right word to describe that movie. Frankly, nasty does not do it justice. Crude, brutal, misogynistic, misanthropic - but well made enough to make you want to watch to the end.
For those of you who do not know the ever so slightly racist Hostel films, the premise is quite simple (oh, yeah, and spoilers ahead). A group of American tourist head out to the edge of nowhere (actually Eastern Europe) where they are abducted by a group calling themselves Elite Hunting. Elite Hunting are wealthy individuals who pay money to torture and kill other people. And that is pretty much the way the first Hostel film worked – a group of male young Americans being tortured and killed. The second film pretty much follows the same plot, but this time the victims are female. To give you an idea of the extreme imagery of the film – probably the most memorable scene occurs when one of the three female protagonists is hung up, naked, by her feet and pulled into the centre of a room over a bath. Another woman comes in, strips, lies in the bath and slashes at the back of the hanging girl and bathing in her blood. The scene ends with the woman in the bath slashing the throat of the hanging girl. It is probably the very definition of a horror movie. It is fucking horrific.
I’ve heard this sort of film – and other similar torture based productions – referred to as Gorno – a curious (and more than slightly unpleasant) hybrid of gore films and porno flicks. Of course, films that mix death and titillation are nothing new. Cannibal Holocaust sees the “heroes” killing a rainforest dweller in horrific style, before the female in their group is attacked, raped, and then beheaded. The Devils was all about a rather ghastly mix of sex, sadism and death. Crash (the Cronenberg version rather than the Oscar winning one) was all about fucking and dying, albeit in car crashes. And all the slasher movies of the eighties – particularly the Friday the 13th series – sought more and more elaborate ways for an unconvincing masked psychopath to despatch scantily clad teenagers. Gorno may be a new term, but it is nothing new. It refers to a disturbing style of film that mixes death and sex – and that mix has been around in some form or other since motion pictures came into being. And I enjoy the odd slasher movie, and think Cannibal Holocaust is much more intelligent than the title or a brief plot synopsis would indicate. However, Hostel Part II is something very different.
Joss Wheedon, of Buffy and Serenity fame, recently wrote an article condemning a Gorno flick. And part of me wants to agree with his ranting complaints, and part of me wants to find a way to ban this sort of nasty, shitty little film. I don’t think the Hostel films would make someone kill (unless they were already deeply disturbed) but I really wonder about what sort of person would make this sort of film, and what sort of person would enjoy it.
But then I remember that, politically, I am a Libertarian. I advocate freedom of choice So the fact that I find something deeply unpleasant does not mean that everyone else will find it deeply unpleasant. Hell, I find Strictly Come Dancing deeply unpleasant. But the viewing figures would suggest that others do not agree. Let’s not ban this sort of film, let it stand. Some people – judging by the Box Office returns – love this sort of thing. And who the fuck am I to say that what they find entertaining is in wrong and should not be seen?
And another aspect to freedom of choice is that people have a freedom to choose – not just to make the film and to watch the film, but also not to watch the film. So I will never watch Hostel Part II again. My choice. And if you want to watch the film again, well, fuck it, your choice. Eli Roth will get (more) rich off your choice, so fairplay to him for finding a gap in the marketplace that is making a fucking fortune.
The fascinating – and most difficult – part of being a Libertarian is accepting that your view allows other to make both bad (and totally fucking awful) choices. If you start to believe you know what it is the correct choice for other people then you are no better than a multitude of shite politicians, including the total cunt who claims to be our PM.
So Hostel Part II – let anyone who wants to watch it, well, watch it. Can’t understand where you are coming from, but hope you enjoy it.
‘Cos I certainly fucking didn’t.