“Remember This?” is a new feature that highlights cool anecdotes from the horror genre’s storied past. It’ll pop up from time to time, giving your brain a spark of an insane memory before you move on with your day.
Let’s clear up any initial misunderstandings – I still really like Hostel (even if I’m one of the rare few who prefer Hostel 2). This isn’t some retroactive review of the film. Rather, it’s a brief musing on the last time I was able to get swept up in hype to a degree where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the actual movie.
I blind bought Cabin Fever when it came out on DVD and rather enjoyed it. It didn’t scare me per se – I responded more to the Deputy Winston stuff than anything else – but it put Eli Roth on my radar. In the ensuing months I kept hearing about his next movie, Hostel. Reader reviews on various sites, on AICN especially if I recall, touted how extreme the movie was. I read about the film’s “hardcore” bona fides over and over and over again. This went on for months (like many of you – I had a group of film sites that comprised my daily routine of web browsing). Then, suddenly, it was January 2006.
It was actually time to see the thing. My girlfriend at the time, who I realize now was an actual insane person far scarier than any horror movie, agreed to accompany me to a matinee showing of the film at the Grove. So here I was, on January 6th 2006, in my 20’s and somehow unsure if I’d be able to handle a movie. Let’s talk more inside…
So we went. Conditioned by months of hype I had an adrenaline charge the entire way to the theater, a charge that spiked during the opening credits where blood, teeth and goo are washed down the drain accompanied by that creepy whistling. 95 minutes (or so) later I emerged. “That’s it?”
Sure, it was gory. Sure, it was gross. But I was somewhat underwhelmed. I realized that I wasn’t nervous because I wasn’t sure if I could handle it or not… It was my desire for something I couldn’t handle that was making me nervous. And I could certainly handle Hostel. Even my date could handle Hostel. I was so confused by all of this internal commotion that I neglected to judge the film on its own merits. I think Roth addressed this issue to some degree later on – stating that audiences primed to expect “the most hardcore thing ever” would of course be disappointed. Simply because it wasn’t that.
In April of 2006 I bought the movie on DVD, and was able to enjoy it for what it was. A good horror movie with some intense moments that actually had something to say. It never became my favorite film, but it was only after the veil of hype had lifted that I was actually able to enjoy it at all.
This isn’t to say that I don’t get excited for movies before they come out. Of course I do. There are several films coming out later this year (and next year) that I’m dying to see. It was just the last time that I prioritized hyperbole on its own rather than filtering it through my own system of checks and balances.
When was the last time this happened for you?