'Hostel', a blood and gore horror film released in 2006, remains one of the most gruesome horror movies to ever make it big in mainstream cinema. There are many suppositions and theories that surround this extremely controversial tale, most of which make a decent attempt to explain the mystery behind Hostel. However, only one explains the whole story. But let us start with the plot first.
'Hostel' is the story about two American friends who are off on a backpacking tour of Europe; the movie starts out with a bit of light comedy that persists as the two meet another traveler from Iceland who tags along with them.
In Amsterdam, they meet a Ukrainian who tells them all about an amazing hostel in Slovakia where hot chicks can be found. This takes them to Slovakia, in search of this legendary hostel where an unlimited supply of lovely willing women exists. A lot of good times later, their friends start disappearing, one by one. Apparently, all is not as smooth as it once seemed. Thus starts the true goriness of the movie Hostel: lopped heads, hanging eyeballs, sliced heels, sawed legs and horrifying bloodbaths, to cut a long story short! Written by Eli Roth, 'Hostel' has supposedly been based on a true story, and marketed in this vein. However, if this is true, what are the real facts behind it? What really happened, where, and to whom? Is Hostel really based on reality events? Can something of this magnitude be kept a secret? The questions boggle the mind.
The truth behind 'Hostel' has its roots not in the lands of Eastern Europe, but in the side-open spaces of Thai villages, where organized crime syndicates rule and poverty forces residents to part with family members for excessive amounts of money. These people are then transported to cities, where the rich and the weirdly psychotic gamble to see how long their victims survive being tortured. From this game, a deeper one evolved, where people started paying exorbitant amount of money to torture and kill these victims.
'Hostel', in a different setting, uses this as a basic idea and tries to portray this theme, whilst bringing in obscure humor that in no way deflects from the actual horror. Europe was selected as a backdrop for Hostel because of its fame as a backpacker heaven, as well as its exotic, reality-based contemporary place in the eyes of the audience. After all, what better place to play out scenes of blood and gore than Europe, what with its backpacking delights and the dark side associated to them!
In the case of the reality behind 'Hostel', no means of actually obtaining the truth to its authenticity exists. It almost certainly happened in Thailand, but this is the only fact that carries a bit of weight in the suppositions that Hostel is based on a true story. However, be that as it may, marketing it as a reality-based movie may just have been what took 'Hostel' from obscurity as a retro of teen horror 80s cinema to one of the most popular horror movies of the new millennium.
A more in depth analysis of Fact vs Fiction
It’s in this most general of plot summaries that the few kernels of truth about hostelling are found. Hostels are indeed located around the world. It is possible, as shown in the film, to visit virtually any location in Europe and find a hostel in which to stay. From major cities to more remote or obscure locations, hostels are everywhere.
It is also true that hostels attract people from all around the world. The convenience of their location and economical price tag make them an attractive choice for travelers from all walks of life. In addition to accommodations, hostels provide a rare opportunity to learn about any numbers of cultures firsthand. In fact, it would be a common occurrence for Americans traveling in Amsterdam to meet fellow travelers from Iceland, Spain, Russia, Canada or even Japan while staying at a hostel.
'Where’s the Fiction?'
In true Hollywood fashion, there is a copious amount of creative leeway in terms of how hostels are portrayed. The concept of a hostel, for example, as a destination for youths seeking no limitations to partying, alcohol use and debauchery is a considerable departure from reality.
In truth, hostels have a set of rules which residents are expected to observe. This could be anything from a curfew for residents to a strict drug-free policy. Cultural considerations are also a factor too, and may affect the types of rules at a hostel. There may be a strict policy of segregating males and females or even clothing guidelines. Failure to respect the ground rules can result in a quick end to your stay at a hostel, but certainly not in the manner reflected in the film.
'Why the Big Difference?'
Beyond the usual Hollywood motivation to shock or titillate, 'Hostel' actually reflects a fear of the unknown and penchant for excess common to Western culture. It plays upon our deepest fears and most destructive vices to create the impression that the unknown is sinister and threatening. It takes the sense of community found in most hostels and twists it into something dark. By gratuitously distorting the realities of hostelling, the movie plays up the shock value but does little else.
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