Hostel: Part II

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March 5th, 2010

The problem with sequels is that you never know what path they're going to follow. Some have little to do with the original creating their own story, sharing the name only. Others bring in a new cast and replicate the plot points of the predecessor, same shit different day.

Eli Roth returned to direct part two (why do so many horror franchises feel the need to add the word 'part' to their follow ups?) and as I quite enjoyed the first film the bad reviews and new controversy couldn't deter me, next time I'll take heed.

Hostel: Part II did pants at the box office, part one was a run-away success and made "a lot of money" (best Slovakian impersonation) so this piece of toot was rushed out. Eli Roth was quite vocal over the film's poor performance and blamed the leaking of an early print online. While this is a sound argument I think he's overlooking one important factor, the film was shit.

I was absolutely bored watching this. Before the release Mr Roth had mentioned that we would get to see the inner workings of the Hostel and its corrupt organisation. I thought his was going to be an interesting follow up but unfortunately this is only a very miniscule section of the film as we are treated to a rinse and repeat story that replaces the 3 guys from the first with 3 girls.

Normally I would write a summary of the plot but what's written above is basically it. Now the first wasn't exactly Citizen Kane (did anyone else find that Rosebud stuff stupid?) and had a basic set up similar to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre but did this really need to replicate it so much? 3 girls go to the Slovakian Hostel and are attacked. Done.

The opening scene left me hopeful, taking place a few days after the end of the first. SPOILERS if you haven't seen the end of the first Hostel.

Paxton, the only survivor wakes up in a hospital somewhere in Europe only to find himself interrogated for a murder (you know which one) at a local train station. Following this intense situation a doctor enters the room, locks the door and slices Paxton open. At this point I was a little upset that they had such little regard for the hero of the first. It was nice that they had Jay Hernandez reprise his role offering a link between the films but by killing him off it kind of negated the whole purpose of the first flick. Only I was about to get swindled – all this was a dream sequence and Paxton awakes from his nightmare, phew.

Is this not just the weakest device in any film? After Dallas pretty much ruined the technique it surprises me how many filmmakers continue to use it. The only films I don't mind doing this are the Nightmare series as they are about dreams, otherwise it just pisses me off.

Paxton is in hiding with his girlfriend and it's been weeks since the incident in Slovakia. When his girlfriend (Jordan Ladd, who was also in Roth's Cabin Fever) wakes the next morning alone she finds Paxton decapitated in the kitchen. I held my breath and waited for this to be another dream but no.

What was the point of this? Why kill him off twice within ten minutes if he was destined to die, why go through with the whole dream sequence. Was this just a way to pad time? I now can no longer enjoy watching the first film. As the original ended in the cinema it was a triumphant escape but now when I watch it I know he is tracked down and murdered shortly after the credits role. Way to go Roth – you ruined the film for one of your fans who actually liked it.

I would also like to point out the similarity between how this began and the recent Cabin Fever 2. Both offer fan service by having characters return in the opening scenes which have nothing to do with the rest of the film. After which both movies become excrement, is this the future of all sequels based on Roth's work?

So with all threads finished we begin a new story with three girls. Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) are art students studying across Europe who are coerced by one of their life models (they get naked you know) to spend their free weekend at a hostel in Slovakia. Repeating the same beats as before we lose the teen comedy vibe as all the sexual activity is downplayed.

I have to wonder why they decided to do this, was it the fact that these were women and not men? From the outset they are quite open about their sexuality but once they arrive at the hostel they are more cautious than the men. Maybe the girls refused to do nude scenes, who knows?

These characters are boring and unlikable, so were the guys in the first but at least they had realistic human qualities. The girls here felt like they had been created just so they could be mutilated down the line. The character of Beth is the only one who is given something to do as she doesn't like to be called the C-word but then again who does.

Two additional characters pop up; Todd and Stuart, two clients who bid on the right to kill these girls. This is a useless storyline which was meant to add to the mythos of Elite Hunting (the evil company that owns the Hostel). I was fascinated in how people became involved with such a group but its nothing more than having a lot of money and stumbling across the company by accident. The two men have such opposing personalities that if you can't figure out the twist coming involving them you'll probably one day find yourself in a dungeon.

As the sex was toned down the violence was ramped up and is far more savage and sadistic. This is what I had expected the original to be like and yet this was awful. As the characters meant nothing to me their death scenes were nothing more than…torture porn. I hate that term but it's the best way to describe this. One scene has a character appear out of nowhere and take a bath in the blood of her victim; it's bizarre and goes on for far too long. The kids from the bubblegum gang return only to have the head of Elite Hunting execute one of them for reasons I'm still not sure about. Finally we have a graphic depiction of a penis getting severed in a scene that causes the film to lose all reason and logic and raises my distaste for this crap.

In America they tried to sell this film on it having one of the most shocking endings of all time (downplayed here in the UK). I have to say I agree with that statement as it is so shockingly bad I was waiting for it to turn out to be a dream sequence but alas no.

SPOILERS BEGIN. The film ends with Beth taking on the Elite hunting company and trying to save her friends. She is too late but manages to get the upper hand on their killers. Before she can kill them the room is stormed by guards and the head of the company.

As Beth is from a rich family she agrees to pay any sum so that she can take her revenge. Following this she finds the life model that sent her to the Hostel and decapitates her. This is ridiculous, not only does this girl join Elite Hunting but it's suggested that she takes pleasure in killing people. At this point it's no longer about vengeance for her fallen friends as she becomes one of the villains. We are meant to accept this because she doesn't like people calling her the C-word, I don't buy it. SPOILERS END.

The look of the flick is clear and glossy compared to the grainy snuff look of the original. I actually think this made things appear worse as everything was so crystal clear you saw things in explicit detail and this was too graphic. I find it hard to recall what the music was like and I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, at least it wasn't distracting.

I can't tell you why this film lacks the same spark as the original, perhaps it had nothing to do with Tarantino. No wait he produced this as well there goes that theory. In truth there was no reason for a franchise to be made out of Hostel, the story was over. Another sequel is in the works going straight to DVD but this time a new director is going to take a stab at it – maybe a fresh perspective is needed. 3/10

Additional: One thing that did irritate me about the release (whether the film was rubbish or not) is that it was blamed in the UK for it's misogynistic acts of brutality against women and it's potential to spur people to behave in the same way. I find it disgusting that what is essentially the exact same film as the first is only gathering attention because it involved women, why was nothing mentioned about the brutality against men two years prior?

George Takei Can be seen on the Golf Course during the bidding war for the new female Hostel victims.
Jay Hernandez's corpse is reused in Eli Roth's Thanksgiving trailer in Grindhouse.
Ruggero Deodato, the director of the controversial 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust, has a brief cameo as a cannibal in the film.

Director: Eli Roth
Screenplay: Eli Roth
Rating: 18
Released: 2007
Starring: Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd

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