HOSTEL: The hallowed tradition of the post-college European backpacking trip turns into an unimaginable nightmare for two unsuspecting American 20-somethings in Eli Roth's (CABIN FEVER) sensational second outing. Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) have embarked upon a hedonistic tour of the continent, and somewhere along the way they picked up an Icelandic lunk named Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson). In Amsterdam the trio partakes of the pastimes most dear to frat boys everywhere: weed, prostitutes, and nightclubs. But when a fellow traveler tells these thrill-seekers about the decadent scene that awaits them in Bratislava, they find themselves unable to resist its lures; enticed by the promise of a hostel full of beautiful girls who love Americans, they set out for the remote areas of Eastern Europe. There, the sex farce to which the film's first half is devoted slowly turns ominous, as the boys hook up immediately with the gorgeous Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) and Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova), whose eagerness masks more sinister intentions.
Soon, the disagreeable backpackers find themselves on the other side of the flesh trade, sold by the girls into an exclusive human trafficking operation that sets its customers up with the opportunity to torture and kill a helpless victim. Much of what follows consists of the squirm-inducing surgical horrors that characterize precursors such as SAW, with the implications regarding the capitalist system and the human soul becoming ever darker. Produced by Quentin Tarantino, the film amps up the gore factor as much as it can get away with, and, in the tradition of the best horror films, offers a satirical and socially conscious commentary.
THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES: Driving South to Richmond, Washington Post reporter John Klein (Richard Gere) finds himself unexpectedly way off course--in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia--knocking on the door of Gordon and Denise Smallwood (Tom Patton and Lucinda Jenney). Gordon is irate. This is the third night in a row that Klein has knocked on his door at 2 a.m. When Sgt. Connie Parker (Laura Linney) arrives to investigate, Klein discovers this is just one of many strange events occurring in the town. With Parker's help, Klein investigates. Soon, he becomes convinced that some catastrophe is about to occur.
In THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, scriptwriter Richard Hatem and director Mark Pellington play upon the strange events that reportedly occurred in Point Pleasant in the mid-1960s. As in ARLINGTON ROAD, Pellington makes great use of a restless, prowling camera and ominous sound effects provided by sound editor Kelly Cabral, sound mixer Pud Cusack (she also worked on ARLINGTON ROAD), and sound designer Claude Letessier. Pellington gets fine performances from Gere, Linney, Patton, Alan Bates as a paranormal investigator, and Debra Messing--who is striking in the too-small role of Klein's wife--before he produces a spectacular final sequence.