Nowadays the 2005 movie Hostel is considered a new classic in the horror genre and especially in the slasher subgenre. Gory, gruesome and grotesque, it was so good that it sparked not one, but two sequels in 2007 and 2011. Back when it came out the movie became an instant hit among critics and audiences all over the world except for one single country – Slovakia. As a matter of fact, it angered Slovaks as the nasty scenes portrayed in the movie were nothing like Slovakia in real.
Hostel tells the story of three college buddies who travel through Europe and meet a Slavic man named Alexei in a night club in Amsterdam. He convinces them to visit a wondrous hostel in Slovakia on affordable prices, situated near great partying spots and filled with gorgeous Slovak girls. As most drunken college students in their place would do, the guys agree to take off with Alexei.
During the rest of the film all three main characters along with several secondary ones are inhumanely maimed, butchered, torched, shot, sliced and murdered through other means.
In a nutshell, the plot of the film is centered around the idea of a handful of rich people known as the Elite Hunting Club who pay to have tourists kidnapped, tortured and killed for the sake of hedonistic pleasures either by members of the actual club or by hired assassins.
The movie portrays Slovakia as an extremely poor, torn down, underdeveloped and overall repulsive place to be. Human trafficking, substance abuse, prostitution and other forms of fatal misdeeds and high crime rate are shown as being the fundamental basis on which Slovakia has been built and has been surviving.
Hostel scored over $80 million USD in the box office against a budget of only $4.8 million USD. Needless to say, the flocks of people from all over the globe who saw it were given the wrongful and infuriating impression that there’s nothing more than a horrifying death awaiting every tourist who sets foot on Slovak soil or even dares speaking to a Slav person in other European countries.
Slovaks from near and far were scandalized of their country’s portrayal, to say the least. Unsurprisingly enough, official members of the Parliament and Ministry of Tourism were so angered to their core that they even invited the film’s director Eli Roth on an all-expense-paid vacation to Slovakia in order to show him the beautiful country and its nation in real life, which were the exact opposite of his vision for the film.
Roth simply explained that the movie was supposed to teach Americans that they’re ignorant about the world around them and that Slovakia should not be offended by Hostel, let alone angered by it. In further defense of his disgusting portrayal of the country and its citizens, he stated that even though the popular Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise depicts a similarly depraved image of Texas, people aren’t put off by the idea of traveling through the state.
A lesser known fact is that not a single scene from Hostel was filmed in Slovakia. Instead, the movie was shot on various locations across the Czech Republic. While reports claim that Czechs, too, weren’t impressed by how Hostel represented Slavs through its negative prism, they were quick to allow Roth to film many scenes of the 2007 sequel Hostel II back on Czech territory.