I came across a site called 411 Mania this week while looking for new news sources, and they've posted an interview with Eli Roth, writer-director of Hostel and its about-to-be-released sequel, Hostel 2. Here's the kicker, this interview is from the future. Now that's what I call getting a scoop baby! I've got a few excerpts from the interview and my thoughts on Roth and the new film, and neither are very pleasant. You've been warned.
Make of it what you will, but the byline says this interview was posted on "06.08.2007" which is Friday of next week. Must be cool living in the future, where you get to score interviews with sick bastards like (yet totally idolized) Eli Roth.
TONY: I talked to Darren Lynn Bousman a couple of months ago, and he told me that he's on Rotten Tomatoes every day seeing what his film is getting rated. As a filmmaker, how much stock do you take in what the critics say?
ROTH: The truth of the matter is that I make films for my fans. When Hostel came out, it got all kinds of diverse reactions. The New York Times said it was misogynistic and homophobic. Art Forum magazine, which is a very high-brow magazine, called it the smartest comment on American imperialism they'd seen in any movie. Le Monde, which is the top newspaper in France, picked it as the best American film of the year. Not just horror film, but the best American film. There were only three American films on their top ten list. We were up there with The New World and The Departed. Hostel was number one on their list. They saw it as an incredible comment on capitalism gone too far.
I'm trying to temper my feelings about movies like Hostel 2 because I know there are a lot of people who are fans of Roth and the first film, and the fact it got a sequel is enough to make that plainly evident. Still, Hollywood is constantly under attack from religious conservatives and Republicans in general (with a helping of stuck-up Democrats too) for having too much violence, naughty words, and showing womens naughty bits.
Those complaints are not legitimate; the FCC regulates television with an iron fist and unlike TV, there's zero chance of anything more than a tiny minority of teenagers (and no kids at all) getting into a theater to watch an R-rated flick like this. It's a matter of choice, many people want to see this stuff, and many people find it offensive. The people that find it offensive want to obliterated from all existence, which makes them downright stupid in my mind.
But then you get films like Hostel which has garnered a new pop phrase -- torture porn -- and not only does it make the situation worse, it actually gives prudes a valid argument for censoring our business.
Elements of this interview just defy logic though, I mean were all these people watching the same film I was? I saw a movie about a bunch of sick freaks that paid good money to a shady nut who kidnapped tourists so his clients could torture them to death. What the f*** does that have to do with commenting on capitalism? How could anyone think that film was smart? It had nudity to draw in the young male crowd and then just blew every attempt at plot away with gore and torture that probably exceeds by a mile anything that has happened in real life.
I know movies are for exploring things that "could" happen or "would never happen" if that suits you, but the point is to tell a story, to get across a message; it's not an excuse to exercise your torture/gore fetish.
TONY: I'm sure you're very familiar with the term "torture porn," which seems to be very popular now. Why do you think so many horror films get branded with that name?
ROTH: I think it was started by David Edelstein, who writes for New York Magazine. He felt that people were getting off on the violence in movies. He immediately put the film in a sub genre of pornographic. A lot of critics when they watch these films, they just react to the violence. The violence becomes the lighting rod, and they don't see anything else beyond it. I think that the term "torture porn" says more about the critic than it does about the movie. I think it speaks volumes about a critics' limited capacity to understand what a horror movie can be.
I can't agree with that at all. I'm a writer, same as Roth. So what if I haven't sold a script, I've written them, I know the craft, I know what the deal is, and it ain't this. Roth can hum until the day he dies, I don't care, there was no discernible plot in Hostel, there was no character development, there were none of the classic elements of a good story.
The entire production existed to try to make people vomit, and now Roth blows it off as high-strung but low-class film criticism. I call bullshit. I know what makes a good script because it's my business to know, I've been studying this stuff for the better part of two straight years, and while I may not be an expert, I damn well know the difference between stupid critics and valid criticism about a terrible movie that seeks to exploit violence at its worst.
I want to be honest here, Roth isn't a bad film maker in general, but he is a terrible writer, and he's one sick bastard. I'm happy he's finding success writing torture porn, but only in the same way I'm happy for the producers of American Idol. They found a new way to exploit the audience rather than entertaining them. They should be ashamed, but they aren't, they are capitalists who found a way to warp the real horrors in life into entertainment. Give 'em their five bucks, they deserve it.
But they won't get mine.
If you're a fan of this film and want to read more, the same guy who did this interview posted a review, also from the future. Quint from AICN has part-two of his set visit report, with part one out there calling your name. Don't forget IGN's review either. Enjoy your torture porn.