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Rated 2.88 stars
by 652 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Hostile Hostel
by Adam Hakari

The cover of the H6: Diary of a Serial Killer DVD displays a critic's quote claiming the film to be "The Spanish answer to Hostel." This is a bit of false advertising, for while Hostel was a gore-laced cautionary tale of American tourists who become part of a pay-to-torture business, H6 is pretty much 90 minutes of one guy dismembering people. The only real thing these movies have in common involves characters meeting ghastly deaths. Lacking the darkly comic and satirical edge that made Eli Roth's bloodfest so morbidly alluring, H6 emerges as one of the most downright grim journeys your DVD player will ever take.

Over fifteen years ago, a man named Antonio Frau (Fernando Acaso) strangled and killed his girlfriend in a fit of rage. Now, thanks to what appears to be the most lax justice system in the world, Antonio has been released back into society, without so much as a single authority figure checking in. Having inherited an old brothel from his aunt, Antonio moves in with his new wife, Francisca (Maria Jose Bausa), and sets about starting life anew -- or so Francisca thinks. Instead, Antonio's murderous nature hasn't been swayed one bit.

While his new bride works the night shift at the hospital, Antonio stays home and lures prostitutes, pimps, and all manners of societal rejects to Room 6 of the brothel, where he unleashes unspeakable torture upon his captives. Antonio chronicles his homicidal exploits in great detail in a diary, slowly setting the situation up so that if he gets caught, a backup plan will ensure his freedom to kill another day.

Among a cadre of other detractions, H6 is foremost a narrative nightmare, its script liable to inspire any high school English teacher to tear off his/her scalp in frustration. The exposition comes across as shaky but rather swift and even a little atmospheric; the setting -- an abandoned brothel Antonio has inherited -- is quite dismal. And even though the dark setting and cinematography play a key part in turning up the film's sense of dread a few notches, I couldn't help feeling removed from the action, primarily because of some shoddy character development. 

For example, H6 can't seem to make up its mind about whether or not to give Antonio a motive. At first, he's depicted as a pure and simple psychopath, killing for the sake of killing, but later a religious angle is introduced that results in confusing things. Still, despite this iffy background, Acaso holds up well with his coldly evil performance. 

Also, although this might be a difference in culture, I  found it hard to swallow that Antonio would get married so swiftly to a woman who knows he's a convicted killer (any signs of his "redemption" are nowhere in sight in this film) and that no authority figures would stop by to see if the dude's up to his old tricks.

Aimless subplots abound here, including one about Francisca's affair with a doctor, and the movie has a habit of dawdling for ages upon unimportant supporting characters (namely Antonio's victims) and packing almost every minute with narration, even from sources that are onscreen for all of five minutes tops.

Most H6's running time is spent with Antonio enticing victims and yammering on before chopping them up with a chainsaw offscreen. As a result, H6 seems like a two-act movie, for just when the conclusion should be starting to become fleshed out and Antonio's intentions are becoming somewhat clearer, the ending credits have started to roll.  

Over the years, horror movies have come under fire for glorifying senseless violence and depicting such horrible acts of cruelty on the silver screen. I don't mind it personally, as long as there's a rhyme, reason, and sense of creativity behind the bloodletting. Unfortunately, in the case of the great-looking but dramatically sloppy and uninvolving H6: Diary of a Serial Killer, horror detractors will probably find more than a little evidence to back up their complaints.

MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)

(Released by Tartan Video; not rated by MPAA.)

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