Eli Roth has grown into one of the most interesting directors currently working in the horror genre, but his filmography is all over the map in terms of what’s worth the time.

Roth is a filmmaker whose love for cinema is present in whatever he creates. His interests frequently take him to the horror genre and whether he’s directing his own films, acting in other people’s, or putting together documentary series on the artistry of horror, Eli Roth remains a fascinating name in cinema. Roth’s horror films are often associated with the “torture porn” trend that he helped usher in, but his films have matured and shown restraint over the course of his career.

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Eli Roth was instrumental in bringing gore back to horror during the early 2000s and all of his films have made an impact on the genre. Roth has demonstrated that he truly respects the horror genre, as his tastes have seen him tackle areas like slasher films, home invasions, sequels, remakes, and a constantly evolving palate for horror. Eli Roth is tapped to direct an adaptation of the popular video game series, Borderlands, but with him taking a temporary detour from horror there’s never been a better time to revisit Roth’s body of work and how his horror films hold up.

6. Death Wish (2018)

While not exactly a full-on horror film, Eli Roth’s remake of the ’70s action title, Death Wish, is still full of grisly deaths and bloody violence. Bruce Willis stars in the film as a surgeon who gets pushed over the edge when his family experiences a home invasion and the police are too busy to act on it. Willis’ character turns into a vengeful vigilante with nothing to lose and his chaotic actions begin to get the attention of the city. Roth’s typical visual flair is present here and there are some well composed scenes and the violence feels like vintage Roth, but otherwise this is a weak, unnecessary misfire where Willis shrugs his way through the film.

5. Knock Knock (2015)

Knock Knock has a lot going for it, but it’s a film that doesn’t quite come together in the end. Keanu Reeves plays a respectable husband and father who is home alone for the weekend. When two stranded women come to his door, he lets them in to help, but the following weekend turns into a twisted game of deception and manipulation. Knock Knock is an interesting character study as the film looks at the masks that people wear and how one bad decision is all that it takes to ruin a careful life. There are some memorable moments here and Ana de Armas and Lorenza Izzo are fantastic as Reeves’ aggressors, but it never achieves the right energy and is tonally all over the place.

4. The Green Inferno (2015)

Many of Eli Roth’s horror films explore the idea of extreme culture shock, but The Green Inferno is perhaps the best example of this. It’s a movie where a number of student activists travel to the Amazon to help in a protest to protect the rainforests, but they’re soon abducted by an indigenous tribe of cannibals. Roth’s movies never hold back with the brutality, but The Green Inferno is a lot to take in as these students get dismembered and eaten. The film creates genuine fear and panic with how none of the characters can understand their captors and how much of their fate is a mystery. Lorenza Izzo is absolutely captivating in the lead role, but the film becomes a little sillier than intended.

3. Hostel (2005)

Hostel is Eli Roth’s big, splashy ode to the violent horror films that seemed to have fallen out of favor by the early 2000s. Roth presents a very simple story about three backpackers who head to Europe with plans of partying and debauchery, but they soon end up in a dark underbelly where money rules all and anything goes. Hostel works as a strong “be careful what you wish for” parable as these irresponsible travelers fight for their lives and experience unimaginable torture. Hostel is effective at what it tries to do and it was a major player in the rush of “torture porn” horror that would follow. Roth builds a dark horror film here, but it’s just a little too mean-spirited at times and the characters can be hard to root for.

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2. Hostel: Part II (2007)

Hostel: Part II gets unfairly maligned and is sometimes viewed as low-hanging fruit, but it essentially does everything that the first film does, but much bigger and better. Roth continues to build the dark universe that he establishes in its predecessor, but the film takes on a female perspective that feels much more self-aware. The dread and gore are much in the same style of Hostel: Part II’s predecessor, but Roth is even more unleashed here and some set pieces are especially extreme. In spite of its heavy atmosphere, Hostel: Part II actually pushes an empowering story and its final act is a smart change of pace from the first movie.

1. Cabin Fever (2003)

Cabin Fever feels like a throwback to the cabin in the woods films of the genre from the ’70s and ’80s. Cabin Fever is not just a strong debut feature from Roth, but it might be his best work. The film effectively showcases the director’s style and his love for excessive gore and black comedy. A group of teenagers spend what’s supposed to be a relaxing weekend away at a cabin, but a flesh-eating virus is unleashed in the water supply and they all start to experience gruesome symptoms. The film is a tight horror film that contains some wonderful practical effects and is just a fun, weird love letter to the genre that doesn’t attempt too much. The strange appeal of its infectious story has helped turn Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever into a direct-to-video franchise and received a remake that used Roth’s original screenplay.

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