Sex and violence with a side of drugs, please

Special to The Times

It could be eye-opening to have film students construct a script entirely around the cautionary warnings assigned by the MPAA ratings board.

Eyes are opened (and then some) in Eli Roth's latest carnival of dismemberment, "Hostel," which seems to have been tailored to its designated R "for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use."

Class, how can we fulfill the requirements of this something-for-everyone menu? Draw from your own life, if it helps.

Drug use: Two hedonistic American students (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson) and a rabble-rousing twerp from Iceland (Eythor Gudjonsson) party down in Amsterdam. Smoke gets in their eyes.

Language: If it's crude, say it loud and often.

Strong sexual content: The Amsterdam red-light district has its charms but nothing to compare with the pleasure districts of Slovakia, where the babes are bountiful, eager and don't bust the budget.

Brutal scenes of torture and violence: The boys visit an art installation. When you've been besieged by conflicts as long as Eastern Europe has, you have to take your art materials where you can find them. Drills, chain saws and axes will do in a pinch.

Writer-director Roth made a blood-splash in 2002 with his cheap debut film "Cabin Fever." He has lost none of his gift for oozing anatomy now that he has earned the producing imprimatur of Quentin Tarantino, who seems to be positioning himself as the Roger Corman of the next generation of cine-sadists.

Although I spent much of the second half staring into my lap while listening to a cacophony of screams and shop tools, I processed enough of the first to appreciate Roth's sinister evocation of a Slovakian provincial town (the roaming kids' gangs are a great touch) and his talent for informing an American tourist's disorientation with a palpable sense of menace.


Jan Stuart is a film critic for Newsday.



MPAA rating: R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use

A Lionsgate release. Director Eli Roth. Producers Mike Fleiss, Eli Roth, Chris Briggs. Executive producers Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel, Quentin Tarantino. Screenplay by Eli Roth. Director of photography Milan Chadima. Editor George Folsey Jr. Production and costume design Franco-Giacomo Carbone. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

In general release.

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