Year: 2005
Studio: Lions Gate
Director: Eli Roth
Producer: Quention Tarantino/Eli Roth
Writer: Eli Roth
Cast: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson
For a movie with such a cult/horror pedigree (conceived during an informal meeting between Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino, the latter saying 'you fucking have to do this movie'), I actually found this pretty tame.

Essentially the story of the dangers beyond your own picket fence (if you're an American), it tells the story of three high school grads travelling in Europe in search of drugs and pussy who have no idea how in deep over their heads they are.

They unwittingly stumble upon a secret network that caters to the sickest whims of the super wealthy by kidnapping travellers and offering them up for torture and murder in a dinghy warehouse in the darkest corner of the former Soviet east.

The kids, of course (Hernandez and Richardson) have no idea, they're just chasing tail in the form of two delicious Eurobabes.

They hear of a mythical hostel in Slokavia, where the drugs are easy and the girls are easier. Lulled into a false sense of adventure, their erstwhile travelling companion goes missing and though mysterious, they don't let it divert from their plans of spending one more night taking drugs and bedding hot chicks.

Their last night soon spells trouble as they're drugged. Richardson wakes up handcuffed to a steel chair in a dark, filthy chamber where a Dutch businessman they've already met proceeds to torture and murder him.

The rest of the film deals with Hernandez's character trying to work out what's gone on, being tricked into the killing house himself, and making his escape from the brutality with equally bloody force.

For a gory horror movie, it takes a long time to kick into gear, outlaying a lot of set-up first. And once the bloodshed hits, Roth is surprisingly squeamish, keeping the grisliest elements of screen or giving us only the tiniest of glimpses of them.

And when it's all over you realise you haven't watched a cult horror movie at all. It's more like a thriller with some gore they snuck past the censors. There's a lot of story and even though it's a fun idea for a splatter film, the film takes itself too seriously to earn the epithet 'cult'.

To be fair to Roth and Tarantino, no movie that reached cinema screens could be as vile as the video nasties of the splatter era, but it was still far less confronting than it was marketed as.

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