Roth's follow-up to the near-classic "Cabin Fever" at first comes across as a more commercial affair, with ubiquitous nudity early on, and an opening that feels a tad like that comedy "Euro-Trip" in its raunchiness.
Two American college kids on a Euro-Trip with an older Icelander they hooked up with head to Bratislava after hearing how awesome the Slovakian women are there, after striking out with the girls in Amsterdam. To their delight, they check into a hostel where unspeakably hot women hang out naked in saunas. They hook up with a couple of babes (one of whom is played by super hottie Barbara Nedeljakova), but become concerned when their Icelandic companion mysteriously disappears.
Roth is able to change the focus from frolicking raunchiness to extreme chilliness in a way that's quite sobering. The old saying "too good to be true" turns out to be terrifyingly apt when the reality of their situation sets in.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a sadist -- or sadists -- kidnapping, torturing and killing some of the youngsters that have the misfortune of showing up at the hostel. Just who or what is going on eventually becomes clear as the story progresses. It's a well-known fact that Roth based his screenplay on a news report of a Thai Internet business through which, for $10,000, one could kill another human being. He moved the location to war-torn Eastern Europe.
Roth's script is brilliant, his direction as intense as anything in years, and like "Cabin Fever," the film is truly original despite being inspired by many of the '70s classics. The film was also inspired by Abu Ghairab, no doubt.
One of the best of 2005, which was a great year for horror. A "Hostel 2" was in the works at the time of this writing.