He may be a member of the iconic “Splat Pack”, but Eli Roth has spent nearly 20 years in the horror film industry.
Not only has he made an interesting variety of movies, but he’s also helped launch new filmmakers as a producer, and his History of Horror miniseries was a fascinating exploration into the deeper themes of the genre.
No one can deny that Eli Roth is the truest of true horror fans, and that he lives and breathes it. So, to honor that fandom, as well as to revisit his work, we thought it would be fun to rank his movies. So here we go:
7. Death Wish
Admittedly Roth was a bit out of his element for this Bruce Willis action thriller for two reasons.
Firstly, it was his first time delving into straight up action, something that his Splat Pack fraternity brother James Wan had previously done with Furious 7.
And secondly, it was a remake of a vintage classic, so it was already having to work overtime to justify its own existence. The result was a mostly forgettable action movie, with Bruce Willis very much on autopilot in the lead role.
Between being riddled with action clichés and never actually buying Willis’ character as a doctor, it seems that Roth would have done much better just directing his own original action movie (which hopefully we get one day).
6. House with a Clock in its Walls
In a move that shocked everyone, Roth bypassed PG-13 and went right from exclusively directing disturbing R rated movies to a PG rated family film.
Although we can all respect his reasoning, as he wanted to make a “gateway horror film” to help mold kids into future horror fans, the execution was far from perfect.
There are certainly some fun visuals, but Jack Black’s over the top antics really hijack the movie and ruin the horror for kids motif.
It probably didn’t help that this came out right before the Goosebumps sequel, so for many it was hard to separate the two.
5. The Green Inferno
There’s a fine line between homage and ripoff, and Green Inferno sits somewhere in the middle. Cannibal Holocaust remains one of Eli Roth’s favorite movies, as evidenced by him giving Ruggero Deodato a cameo in Hostel II.
So when he decided to make his “own version” of the movie, it comes off as feeling more like a spiritual remake, which is probably the point.
For many, the animal cruelty scenes in the original film render it unwatchable, so in that regard, Green Inferno provides an alternative film to watch that explores similar ideas.
His heart felt like it was more in this movie than it was for Death Wish, but it’s still not quite his best.
4. Knock Knock
It may be Roth’s lowest rated movie on IMDB (4.9/10), but I’ve always been fond of Knock Knock.
Sure it has it’s cheesy moments, particularly when Keanu Reeves goes full Nicholas Cage with his shouting, but it successfully tows the line between dark comedy and disturbing horror.
In a fun and interesting twist on tropes, the young attractive women are the villains, and they tap into this manic insanity that’s both fun and unsettling.
It features an early performance from a very talented Ana de Armas, who would later go on to star in Knives Out. Plus, it provides another Father’s Day horror movie to watch, other than The Stepfather.
If Cabin Fever introduced Eli Roth as a cult horror icon, Hostel is what made him go mainstream.
Following the success of Saw, Roth successfully upped the ante, so to speak, in terms of gore and torture porn.
It successfully pulls off the genre shift from a sex comedy to disturbingly gritty gore film in just a few minutes.
Sure it’s sensationalized, but that’s very much what the horror genre was about in the mid-2000’s. And Hostel was one of the movies that pioneered that shift.
2. Cabin Fever
It’s simple, it’s gory, it’s cringe-inducing, and it’s disturbing in all the right ways! It has a great grindhouse feel, and remains one of the most memorable body horror films since David Cronenberg’s The Fly.
When it comes to horror films, smaller scale and lower budgets can often work to a movie’s advantage, and this is definitely an example of that.
Plus, it deals with a subject (flesh-eating bacteria) that seems farfetched, but we all know in the back of our minds is just within the realm of possibility, as we’ve all seen at least one news story featuring it.
1. Hostel II
In a surprising move to probably many, we’ve decided that Hostel’s sequel deserves a slight edge over the original. While it does revisit a lot of the same ideas from the first film, it enhances and expands upon them as well.
We see more of the behind the scenes of how this grim “torture organization” works. Which, in many ways, is far more terrifying than the most brutally violent scenes in the movie.
In one particular scene, we see a host of “ordinary” people at business meetings, golf courses, even being loving with family, all while they’re secretly bidding on their phone for the chance to torture someone.
It reinforces the idea that a psychopath could very easily be hidden in plain sight among us, and it’s incredibly unsettling to think about
What’s favorite/least favorite Eli Roth movie?! Let us know in the comments!
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