Opening 27 Apr 2006
Director Eli Roth’s second film (after Cabin Fever) begins with two American college students, Paxton and Josh, looking for adventure in Europe. Their limited interests rule out visiting The Louvre or shopping for cuckoo clocks. Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, European style, are their game. They exchange tips with other like-minded young people in an Amsterdam youth hostel. Perhaps if someone had directed them to the Hamburg Reeperbahn, they would be alive and well today. As fate would have it, they connect with Oli from Iceland and take the train to Slovakia where they check into a hostel in Bratislava. This is worthy of old playboy Hugh Hefner’s wildest dreams: beautiful naked girls, sauna, drug-induced nirvana. Naturally, it’s too good to be true, and the horror begins. Oli disappears and while his friends search, we see him chained to a chair waiting to be tortured by a maniac.
There is more sex than horror in the first two-thirds of this adult splatter movie. Most of the horror is in the form of your worst nightmares: searching for someone, crawling down an empty corridor, a tray of surgical instruments, fear of being alone, or a stranger whistling in the dark. Not all is left to the imagination, for example, a Japanese girl named Kana does get her eye gouged out by demented sadists. In old-fashioned horror movies, someone was always looking for a phone and barely finding one, which then didn’t work. In this modern film, a cell phone creates suspense through mysterious clues via SMS and photos. I’ll always remember the film as the first time I ever saw a man with a face tattooed onto his buttocks which must make mooning much more interesting. (Becky Tan)