Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hostel analysis - part 2: Paxton gets the upper hand with a client


One of the most crucial scenes in the movie occurs when Paxton is in a 'cell' (a special room), chained to a chair and about to be tortured with a chainsaw by one of the 'clients' - a man who has paid money to the owners who run the torture 'service'; these owners have innocent people such as Paxton kidnapped, then confined within a building in which individual areas and rooms are set up for them to be tortured (the rooms typically contain chairs and tables, a variety of torture instruments, manacles and/or ropes, and other items a given client may have requested).

The client starts working on Paxton by cutting off some of his fingers with the (running) chainsaw. Then he backs away from Paxton ten or fifteen feet; next, he begins running toward Paxton with the chainsaw outstretched in front of him. Just before reaching Paxton, however, he slips on some wet blood that is on the floor, and falls; the chainsaw, still running, then lands on top of him and severs his leg. Paxton, taking advantage of the opportunity, frees himself from the chair, then shoots and kills the unfortunate client with a gun which has been lying nearby. He then entices a guard, who has been sitting just outside the room, to come into it, and then he shoots and kills the guard. Note that in this scenario, the tables have been turned – the person who was being tortured now has the upper hand.

Paxton knows he must exit the room disguised, so that he will not arouse suspicion while trying to escape the building, should he encounter any of the torture service employees who earlier brought him to the building. He dons a helmet which has been lying nearby; this particular helmet has two pointed horns on top, and is designed such that it has a lower portion which functions as a mask; thus, when Paxton is wearing it, his face is covered, and therefore, no one who works for the torture service and had earlier seen his face, will recognize him while he's trying to escape. Helmets symbolize invisibility;[a] this fits with Paxton wanting to escape unnoticed.

a. Dictionary of Symbols. Ed. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, Trans. John Buchanan-Brown. London: Penguin Group, 1996. p. 492.


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