Hostel | 2005
Three young tourists, Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson) and Icelander Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) in Amsterdam hear of a ‘Slovakian’ hostel bursting with beautiful young women delighted to, erm, ‘meet’ Americans. They are of course on the train east in a heartbeat.
Slovakia was not too pleased with the way it’s portrayed in the film, particularly since the movie was made in the neighbouring Czech Republic.
The backpackers’ hostel on ‘Herengracht Straat’ in a strangely canal-free and Czech-looking ‘Amsterdam’, where the three find themselves locked out after curfew, is Petra Slezáka 471/1 at Březinova, in the Karlín district of Prague. It's a little east of the 'DeCobray lab' and train smash from G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, and it’s not really a hostel of course.
The upstairs window from which the genial ‘Alex’ invites them in is around the corner on Březinova. It’s Alex who tells them of the fabled establishment “just outside Bratislava” where their priapic dreams will be fulfilled.
Things don't look too promising at first as they arrive at the glum ‘Poricany’ railway station, which is actually the far end of the platforms at Praha Masarykovo nádraží (Prague Masaryk Railway Station) in the Nové Město (New Town) area of Prague, north of Hlavní nádraží, the main station. It's much larger – and clearly and less remote – than it appears in the film.
Things look up once they clap eyes on the postcard-pretty town of Český Krumlov, about 100 miles south of Prague, and also seen in Neil Burger's 2005 The Illusionist, with Ed Norton. There’s one train a day from Prague's main station to Český Krumlov (and one back, at 2pm), but there’s a regular bus service, which takes around three hours.
They enter Český Krumlov beneath the imposing multi-level Plastovy most Viaduct, and the view of the red-roofed Medieval town is every bit as enticing as it looks in the movie.
The ‘Slovakian’ hostel isn’t in Český Krumlov, or anywhere near. It’s Klášter Doksany, the convent of the Premonstratensian Sisters, Doksany 1, in Doksany, about 30 miles northwest of Prague. The village of Doksany itself has been a regular location for BBC TV series The Musketeers.
Founded back in 1144 by Princess Gertruda, Klášter Doksany is a sister convent to the monastery of Strahov in Prague (itself a frequent movie location seen in the likes of Casino Royale and From Hell).
In 1782, the convent was closed down by Emperor Joseph II and the building used as an army hospital until it was sold off to an aristocratic family who converted it into their grand home. The building didn't fare well under the communist regime, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 was restored to its use as a convent. I’m pretty confident in claiming that the Premonstratensian sisters are not running the Elite Hunting organisation.
The hostel has its own secrets and within a day of arriving, the ebullient funster Oli has suddenly gone missing.
Nevertheless, back in Český Krumlov, Paxton and Josh walk on Rybářská, running alongside the River Vltava south of town, where Paxton tells Josh about the traumatic childhood experience of seeing a little girl drown.
There are shades of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now as they glimpse someone wearing Oli’s distinctive orange jacket, on Kostelní as they descend the steps below Kostel Sv. Vita (St Vitus Church) to the east of the town.
They follow him into a doorway on the narrow flight of steps running down to the river from Horní – probably not a good idea. There’s a little foreshadowing when this turns out to be the Muzeum Tortury – the Museum of Torture.
In reality, the door is nothing more than the rear entrance of a private establishment but you might be surprised to hear that the museum is real.
It occupies in the Medieval cellars of the old town hall in the centre of the town square at náměstí Svornosti 1, just a couple of doors from the main Tourist Office.
You’ll see the spiky chair and other period delights, though the man in the red hood remains disappointingly immobile. There are sound effects and a chilly wind machine but the only danger you’ll face is from the precipitous steps in near darkness.
As Paxton and Josh leave the museum and descend the steps they get the suspicious text from Oli: “I go home”.
It’s at the bottom of these steps that Paxton later realises this where is Oli took a final selfie (though the factory chimney is added digitally), and where the gang of feral kids rob him of his phone. Don’t worry – this is a serenely peaceful riverside spot.
After Josh too disappears, Paxton unwisely accepts the offer to visit a strange art exhibition just out of town.
The abandoned factory is back in Doksany, čp. 104, just a little to the north of the Convent.
Most of the grim interiors were filmed in the long-closed Building 10 wing of the Psychiatric Hospital Bohnice, Ústavní 91, north of Prague. Ironically, this dour locations is surrounded by picturesque grounds used for popular concerts and festivals.
Escaping the house of horrors in a commandeered car, Paxton and the rescued Kana (Jennifer Lim) come across the ‘bait’ girls from the hostel along with the duplicitous Alex on Latrán at the junction with Nové Město, in the heart of Český Krumlov, where he deliberately runs them down.
Paxton alone manages to make it to ‘Vienna’ railway station, where he recognises the Dutch torturer (Jan Vlasák).
The station is Hlavni-Nadrazi, Prague's main Railway Station on Wilsonova.
The entrance to the gents’ toilet in which Paxton exacts bloody revenge is no such thing. The toilets are much blander. The more stylish doorway seen in the film is a southern exit from the lower level of the station’s modern mall on the western side of Wilsonova.