Hostel (2005)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Trailers

With an estimated budget around $5 million dollars and raking in over $47 million dollars at the North American box office ($72 million worldwide), Hostel apparently struck a chord with fans of horror as well as exploitation cinema. Filmed in the Czech Republic, Germany and Prague, "Hostel" is the follow-up film to "Cabin Fever" from horror director Eli Roth.

Starring Jay Hernandez, and Derek Richardson, the two Americans join with a fellow backpacker and journey to Slovakia where they hope to encounter girls who will have sex with just about anyone. But sex isn't the only business being sold in Slovakia as they soon find out. "Hostel" is unique among horror films in that we the viewer have no idea where the story is taking us. What starts out as 3 backpackers on an indulgence-seeking trek of sex, drugs and more sex, soon turns into a harrowing nightmare of survival as they find themselves the prey of a torture-and-murder-for-pleasure cult.

Director Eli Roth attempts to create a realistic situation and for the most part he succeeds. The credit for this goes to the actors involved in the project. Not only are they believable as horny guys, they prove their acting chops when things turn nasty. The top notch production values also lend to the realism going down around us. The first half of the story shows us the guys basically having their wildest dreams of carefree sex with beautiful women come true. But we all know nothing in life is free; especially sex. And in the case of "Hostel," there is an extreme price to be paid for this. When the bad stuff happens, it is intense, gory and bloody to be sure. For fans of the extreme, "Hostel" should be sure to please. There is even a cameo by famed Japanese director Takashi Miike ("Audition" and "Ichi the Killer").

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents "Hostel" to the North American audience on this DVD in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, thus preserving the original theatrical presentation of the film. Colors are vibrant and rich, with flesh tones appearing natural. Once inside the "chamber of horrors" so to speak, the scenes are dark; but not to worry since black levels are rich and deep with excellent delineation of shadows. The transfer for "Hostel" is sharp, crisp and devoid of dust or dirt particles. No edge-enhancement was evident. In short, for a $5 million dollar film, "Hostel" looks incredible!

The soundtrack comes to us via Dolby Digital 5.1 and all channels are utilized to full effect with what we are seeing and hearing on the screen.

The Special Features for "Hostel" include not one, not two, but four separate commentary tracks! First up is director Eli Roth and executive producers Quentin Tarantino, Boaz Yakin and Scott Spiegal. This was the only commentary track I skimmed through, but it is everything a fan of Quentin Tarantino would come to expect! The conversations were recorded with everyone in the same room and has an easy going free for all feeling. The swear words fly, laughter and joking abound, as well as very informative tidbits from all regarding the film shoot.

Next, we have director Eli Roth with actors Barbara Nedeljakovia and Eythor Gudjonsson, editor George Folsey, Jr. and online movie critic Harry Knowles from "Aint It Cool News."

The third track features once again, Eli Roth, producer Chris Briggs and documentarian Gabriel Roth.

The fourth and final track features director Eli Roth (solo this time) discussing the making of his film in more detail.

Also included in the "Special Features" section is the 3-part documentary "Hostel Dissected" broken into featurettes. This can be viewed all at once or watched separately. The first featurette runs about 27 minutes while the others are about 14 minutes each, giving the viewer a very informative and entertaining total of 55 minutes of additional behind the scenes "Making Of" material to enjoy.

Also included is "Kill the Car!" (A multi angle interactive feature) and some bonus trailers.

Just like the entertaining "Wolf Creek," "Hostel" has its supporters and detractors. Despite some of its' extreme content, I enjoyed "Hostel" and went along for the creepy ride that it took me on. I would say that if you are intrigued by "Hostel," I would recommend renting before going out and making a blind purchase; especially if you have a weak stomach!