Having graduated from NYU Film School, Eli Roth has been a student of film nearly his whole life. After working behind the scenes on a number of projects throughout the late ’90s, Roth finally got his shot at directing his own big time film with 2001’s Cabin Fever. He has been a staple of the horror genre ever since, directing some of the most outrageous and terrifying horror movies of the last two decades. Roth’s early projects have a particular aesthetic of ramping up the blood and gore, but the director finds a balance with some of his more recent films. In honor of the horrific and macabre, let’s take a look at Eli Roth’s directorial projects.
7/7 Death Wish (2018)
Death Wish is a hard entry to discuss. The film’s original release date was pushed back following a mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, and its eventual release debuted in theaters just one month after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. For a movie that focuses heavily on a vigilante enacting revenge through extreme use of gun violence, being released so closely to these real life tragedies shined an awful light on the film. Roth directs a perfectly fine action film despite its controversial subject matter. Ranking among the lesser films in the Death Wish franchise, the negativity surrounding the film tainted its release as well as its ranking on this list.
6/7 Knock Knock (2015)
Knock Knock delivers Eli Roth’s take on the home invasion film that has frequented the horror genre since its inception. Starring Keanu Reeves as an architect named Evan at home alone, recovering from a recent surgery, he is met at his front door in the middle of the night by two young girls seeking shelter from the rain. One of which is current star Ana de Armas making her English language film debut. The events that ensue inflict mental and physical torment on Evan as the girls threaten his life through violence and blackmail. The movie is lauded much more for Reeves’ performance than Roth’s directing, a saving grace of an otherwise lackluster film.
5/7 Hostel: Part II (2007)
The sequel to his 2005 hit film Hostel, this follow-up aptly titled Hostel: Part II takes the concept of the first film and dials up the blood and gore to eleven. Using the same story as the first film, the movie explores rich people in Europe paying large amounts of money to inflict pain and torture on, mainly American, victims. The biggest complaints about the film were its similarities to the original without offering much newness other than heaps of blood. Leading Roth to rant on his MySpace at the time, now that’s a dated reference, offering up alternative reasons for the films lack of success.
4/7 The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)
Eli Roth’s first step into the young adult genre comes in the form of 2018’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls. It also marks Roth’s most star-studded cast, featuring the likes of Cate Blanchett and Jack Black. This fantasy comedy strays far away from Roth’s typical blood-and-gore horror films and allows the director to flex some of his other creative muscles. While the overall film falls short of the 1973 novel with which it is based, it is a breath of fresh air seeing Roth’s broad display of talent.
3/7 The Green Inferno (2014)
The Green Inferno is the furthest thing from the previous family-friendly film directed by Eli Roth. An homage to cult classic horror films like the controversial Cannibal Holocaust, and a near remake of its sequel often referred to by The Green Inferno, this particular film focuses on a group of students who find themselves in the clutches of a cannibalistic tribe in the Amazon. While the film did not enjoy major success in theaters due to its intense subject matter, horror enthusiasts loved it, and it shows just how talented Eli Roth can be in his element.
2/7 Hostel (2006)
Hostel came out during a time in which gruesome bloody torture was about to consume the horror genre for the next five years, thanks in part to the Saw franchise. It also marks Eli Roth’s sophomore directorial outing. The film features a trio of friends as they traverse Europe seeking out parties, sex, and drugs, eventually ending up at a hostel in Slovakia. The men find themselves entranced by a duo of women they meet at a party; a duo of women who will lead them to the real horror the city has to offer. The men find themselves kidnapped and in the middle of a business in which wealthy men and women can pay for victims to torture and mutilate. Within the film is a message about the societal taboos of paying for flesh, whether that be for sexual purposes or in this film, torturous ones. Offering a movie that is deeper than you might think. Overall, it is just a well-directed bloody good time.
1/7 Cabin Fever (2002)
Eli Roth’s best directorial outing thus far also happens to be his first. Cabin Fever hit theaters in 2002 and follows a group of college students as they vacation at a secluded cabin in the woods.The friends quickly become ill as a flesh-eating virus begins infecting them. Where the film succeeds is in its simplicity. A group of friends, stuck at a secluded location, who fall victim to an unknown or unseen force. Cabin Fever is essentially a love letter to classic low budget horror films of the past. Films like; Evil Dead, Deliverance, and Night of the Living Dead. The film is a glimpse at the talents Roth would go on to display in future projects. The movie even received the sequel treatment under the direction of rising horror director TI West.