Endless Vacation

I’ve been reading reviews of the film Hostel 2, which was released in the UK the other week. Critics over here are fairly unanimous in the opinion that the movie is an unpleasantly misogynistic piece of crap. US film writers pretty much hold that view too, though a few do buy into director Eli Roth’s explanation that his film is not actually a cheap exploitation flick, pandering to the worst instincts of sick individuals who like to fantasise about torturing young women, but is in fact a serious work of horror, which performs the traditional role of the genre by allowing the audience to exorcise their subconscious fears through a cathartic experience of vicarious menace.

I haven’t seen the film myself, or its predecessor, so I don’t really have an opinion on whether Roth has a point or not. Whichever way you look at it though, the fact that there is enough of an audience in the US to make this movie a commercial proposition tells us something interesting about the current state of the collective American psyche. Either casual sadism is becoming more mainstream, or paranoia has become so widespread that people really worry that stepping over the border carries a risk of being kidnapped and murdered by sinister foreigners. Thinking about how this might translate into US foreign policy is the sort of thing that keeps faint-hearted Europeans like me awake at night.

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