Eli Roth‘s 2006 horror film Hostel is already extremely dark, as is its conclusion, but the alternate ending makes things that much more harrowing. Roth made a splash as a director with his 2003 debut Cabin Fever, a box office hit that took a gory look at what might happen if a virulent strain of flesh-eating bacteria was let loose on a group of college students. His second film, Hostel, really let horror fans fan know that Roth was here to make a impact though, in some ways solidifying the sub-genre that would come to annoyingly be known as “torture porn.”

The inherently dismissive nature of that label aside, Hostel innovated when it came to the levels of brutality and sadism allowed to appear in an R-rated, studio-backed film. A tale of three young friends just looking to party it up in Europe, only to end up the prey of a mysterious organization of murderers, Hostel is one of the most tense viewing experiences out there, especially for those of a more squeamish nature.

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Related: Eli Roth’s Dangerous Inspiration For Hostel Explained

This harshness very much extends to Hostel‘s ending, as seen in its standard theatrical cut. After escaping from the Elite Hunting Club, Paxton (Jay Hernandez) tracks down the Dutch Businessman that tortured and murdered his friend Josh, and kills him. That’s very dark as it is, but Hostel‘s alternate ending makes it look cheery.

Hostel’s Alternate Ending Explained: Why It Was Cut

Jay Hernandez in Hostel 2005

In Hostel‘s alternate ending, which was the originally intended conclusion, Paxton doesn’t kill the Dutch Businessman, instead opting to kidnap the man’s young daughter. It’s left ambiguous as to what Paxton plans to do with her, but the sight of him holding the struggling girl and trying to cover her mouth is a very unpleasant one. This ending actually appears on the home video director’s cut of Hostel, but when test audiences saw the film this way, they responded with extremely negative reactions.

Some of the respondents simply found the implications of the original Hostel ending too dark, while others were puzzled as to what they were supposed to think happened. Was Paxton going to kill the girl? Was he trying to rescue her from growing up with such a deranged father? In Eli Roth’s mind, he settled on the idea that Paxton was saving the girl, although in his original script, Paxton cut her throat. Either way, the test reactions to the ending were so bad that Roth filmed the more dramatically satisfying theatrical conclusion that most fans are familiar with. At least interested viewers now have the option of watching the film with the ending they prefer.

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