Will Czech viewers be drawn to new ultra-violent film?


The new ultra-violent film "Hostel", presented by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Eli Roth, may have made headlines and shocked some in the US by beating King Kong on its opening weekend, but already it is clear the film, one of the most violent in years, will appeal mostly to horror fans. Anyone else, be warned. For Czechs, perhaps the most interesting thing about the film will be the fact that the film was shot in the Czech Republic featuring a number of local actors.

It seems likely that the film "Hostel", coming to screens soon in the Czech Republic, will add "oxygen" to the debate on film violence and the film's distributor Falcon film, has taken steps to ensure cinema goers make no mistake: posters showing clearly that "Hostel" is "no love story". Jan Bradac is the head of Falcon film:

"We have to agree with exhibitors how we're going to present the movie so that children aren't [exposed to images of violence]. That would be a problem, so definitely we have to take care of this. The other thing is that we have to send a clear message to the audience what this movie is about: a strict genre movie, horror, very full of violence and bloody scenes. It is of course 18+."

The R-rated tale - which tells the story of two American backpackers and an Icelandic buddy travelling through Europe on the search for cheap drugs and sex, all of which goes horribly wrong - is nothing if not a blood-fest. For Czechs, that means the most curious point of interest may only be the fact that the film was shot here, with several local actors including the respected Miroslav Taborsky. Others will be surprised that producers enlisted a score by Michal David, most famous in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. In recent years his songs have seen a resurgence of popularity, in a mix of 80s nostalgia and camp. In that sense, "Hostel" may take on an added, bizarre twist. Jan Bradac again:

"It's going to be part of the atmosphere of the deviant story 'The Hostel' tells. That said, people who will want to see this movie probably won't be big fans of Michal David."

"Hostel", shot in the Czech Republic, takes place in neighbouring Slovakia - although it's a Slovakia few here will recognise. Some reviewers have written tongue-in-cheek that after seeing this film you won't go there. But, another compared it to Hollywood's 1930s depiction of Transylvania. You'd be foolish to think this film had anything to do with "reality".

As for how the film stands now? One well-known internet barometer, combining critics' ratings of the film, shows it hovering at around 60 percent favourability. Some reviewers have praised "Hostel" within its genre as professionally made, and very-well lensed by Czech cameraman Milan Chadima. In terms of narrative, though, whether the film likes its characters enough for them to survive is a different story. You'll have to have a very strong stomach to find out.