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Notes from the back row

Torture, power tools on tap

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Sometimes being a part of someone’s twisted sense of fun happens accidentally, like when you pass out in Grade 12 and wake up with one eyebrow shaved. And sometimes it happens coincidentally, like when you wake up with a concussion and glimpses of what you wish you didn’t do last night and it’s not fun at all.

Occasionally though, twisted fun happens intentionally, like when you pay large sums of money to mutilate a couple of helpless backpackers with a saw and a butane torch.

That sets the scene for the horror movie of the week – Hostel , the second directorial endeavor from Eli Roth ( Cabin Fever ). A somewhat terrifying journey, Hostel follows two college buddies, Paxton (Josh Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson), along with their Icelandic friend Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson), who set out to experience the ultimate European trip – drugs, sex, Eurobabes, and more sex. On the recommendation of a guy they meet in Amsterdam with a giant lip-growth that’s equally as creepy as any gore scene, the trio heads to Bratislava, Slovakia where they are eager to exploit a hostel full of women as thirsty as they are endowed. Upon arrival, the trio is quickly befriended by gorgeous vixens with hot foreign names like Svetlana. Said vixens lure the annoying travelers into a dark and twisted world in which elite businessman pay money to join a thrill-kill hunting club where no one’s afraid to get serious and/or creative with power tools and a helplessly bound victim.

Rumor has it that Roth loosely based this screenplay on a real-life website that he and Quentin Tarantino (who produces) found where, allegedly, you could pay money to torture someone. While all of this may sound like the premise for a really good horror movie (especially that director/producer combo), the first half of the flick is spent listening to the annoying dialogue of overzealous frat-boys and staring at hot chicks. It was much like last weekend in that matter. When the over-the-top grisly and horrific terror sequences finally start it’s too little, too late and the audience is left to slog it out through a ridiculous, anti-climactic ending.

When it does finally end, despite all the hype about people leaving the theatres puking or passing out from the gore, Hostel marginally delivers. Burdened with a barely plausible plot and even less plausible acting, I’d say wait for the DVD (to be released ASAP I’m sure) and instead spend your pocket change on a bag of disposable razors for the next time you run into some accidental eyebrow fun.

Either that or go see incredibly gorgeous Kate Beckinsale take the Romeo and Juliet story back into Vampire/Werewolf territory with Underworld:Evolution. Not as good as the original, this is still an obvious must-see for any fan of blood, tight leather, and aristocratic accents.

Also keeping it real at the good old Village 8, but next week I guess, is Good Night and Good Luck , George Clooney’s superb take on 1950s era McCarthyism and communist witch hunts. No idea what that means? Watch this movie. Then think about maybe reading a book or two in your lifetime.

The library has free books and a good selection of DVDs too. Books rule because you never know when you’ll wake up with a head injury and can’t get out of bed and have to get your girlfriend to write the movie reviews. That scenario, of course, is still much better than waking up in a Slovakian torture chamber, or at your buddy’s place with one eyebrow missing and a sense that you might be an idiot. But that’s neither here nor there.

AT VILLAGE 8 Jan. 20-26: Underworld Evolution; Hostel; Munich; Brokeback Mountain; Memoirs of a Geisha; Fun With Dick and Jane; Chronicles of Narnia; King Kong; Last Holiday.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Jan. 20-26: Crash.

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