Here's another little segment I think I might start rolling out: overrated horror! I will go into movies, characters, actors, directors, or even franchises that I think are overrated or just don't click with me. Now bear in mind this doesn't mean necessarily that I don't like that particular movie or person, it just means that I don't think as highly of them as most people tend to see them. For my first installment, I'm going to delve into a person that I really cannot seem to figure out:
Eli Roth. I have to say, my hatred for this guy knows no bounds. Okay, so maybe not for the guy himself, but for the movies he makes. You may know him as Tarantino's little pet project and the guy who talks about things almost a passionately (and at length) as Tarantino himself does. The guy has directed 3 movies so far: Cabin Fever, Hostel, and Hostel II. I just don't know where to start.
I've seen the guy talk on TV (101 Scariest Movie Moments, Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh, His Name Was Jason) and he seems to genuinely like horror movies. You can see the passion when he talks about them. He's trying very hard to promote horror and seems like he wouldn't be a bad guy to go and get a beer with sometime. He knows his stuff and cares about what he does. So why do I think he's overrated?
He's not really that good of a director. His movies have been generally boring and lifeless with terrible dialogue. Cabin Fever was laughable at parts and not when it was trying to be. Hostel was an okay movie at best, but was forgettable and overall kind of limp. Hostel II was regrettable. I just can't understand how this guy keeps getting press for his movies. He's the poster child for the torture porn industry ("gorn" as it's called sometimes) and basically the boiler plate I use for explaining why too many horror movies just rely on gore and no story or scares. Hostel wasn't scary, it was violent. Cabin Fever had no tension, it had makeup effects. Hostel II had, ummm, a guy killing someone with a scythe? I don't really think Hostel II had much going for it. I'm greatly scared for his upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's wonderful book Cell because it's one of my favorite King books (and just overall books) of recent memory.
When it comes right down to it, I think Roth can actually set up shots pretty well and has an eye for some great scenes, but he can't really do tension or write scripts. His dialogue is (as previously mentioned) lacking and uninteresting. He's ambitious, but leaves most of his movies feeling like he spent too much time on the effects and not enough on the plot or characters. Cabin Fever was basically a train wreck. Hostel was like watching an epileptic try new meds: at times it was working and focused, others it was seizing out of control. Hostel II was that same epileptic giving up on the meds: an interesting thought, but ultimately unfulfilling and not that fun to watch.
I think with a little direction and someone else penning the script, Roth could make some very interesting movies. However, he seems like the type of person that would consider himself an "auteur" and would refuse to do work that he doesn't have full control over, especially if Tarantino has anything to do with it. I said before he seemed like a guy that would be cool to go have a beer with, but he also seems like a guy who you would want to punch after about 2 hours of talking to him. I feel like he would be an interesting person in limited doses. It's also worth noting that the antagonist from The Girl Next Door (played by Timothy Olyphant) is based off Eli Roth and his many mannerisms. That doesn't paint an attractive picture.
Basically, I think Eli Roth isn't nearly as good as people like Greg Mclean, Neil Marshall, or even Alexandre Aja. Is Eli Roth the future of horror? God, I hope not.