The movies of Eli Roth. Hostel: Part II (2007) – movie review(s) with VANESSA STEWART and JIMMY RAY DAVIS

Plot: Three female college students take a detour from their partying, enticed by a beautiful European woman who promises seclusion, safety and maybe even romance. What they get is a living hell where they are sold to the highest bidder whose fondest wish is to kill them slowly. Hostel: Part II also follows two American men who, on the flip side of the coin, are willing to pay to join an exclusive club where a life will end at their hands… (from IMDb).

Check out my review of Hostel (2005) to get in the right mood!

Vanessa’s Review.

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I love the Hostel franchise yet I am not a massive fan of purposeful gore. I am very much narrative and story driven. Being a horror enthusiast, there are few movies I watch that nail the latter. This franchise is one of them.

To fully appreciate the detail Roth covers during the three films, you really need to watch them in order. They have characters, themes, and details which overlap.  My favorite of the series is the original. This is simply due to the final sequence. It maintains the element of surprise.

Hostel II begins with a small sequence set around a previous character. It then launched into a new scenario featuring three women. Their characters aren’t completely stereotypical for horror, but they do include types. The appeal of the original for me was the likability of the central cast. This one not so much.

Lauren, Lorna, and Whitney are ok but none of this trio really grew on me like in the previous or third installment. There was also a little inconsistency in the treatment of the women and their ability to look out for one another. Lorna is so over-the-top vulnerable, it was slightly jarring that after enabling her to drink alcohol, they left her to look after her own decisions. Someone like Whitney is the person that Lauren decides is worthy of chaperoning.

Despite some minor plot devices being a little dumb, the overall premise was amazing. It becomes very apparent that ‘the hunting club’ briefly glossed over in the first movie is much larger than anticipated. A small town in Slovakia becomes a massive place of extreme conspiracy. Hostel II turns the tension way down yet there is still a decent amount of edge to propel it into an enjoyable ride. It becomes a scene where we know what is happening but the characters are completely clueless. As viewers, we are putting the pieces together while waiting to see where it will all eventuate.

And then there are the antagonists. My favorite part of the ensemble that is Hostel II. Todd and Stuart are excellently written and they become a familiar highlight in comparison to the first film. That element of surprise creeps back in with them. Where the compelling personalities of the girls are lacking, they are made up for with these two. They aren’t the seedy assholes typical of the other killers in these films. They have depth and more importantly, they were really interesting.

Some fans don’t venture into the ‘torture porn’ side of this genre, yet somehow Hostel II is one of my favorite franchises. Horror is a genre that is sometimes stale when it comes to creative plots, logical sequences and kill scenes that cause non-horror loving movie fans to sit in judgment. I watched part two of this series again to write this review. It was a reminder of just how great Eli did with this. Then I watched the third installment again too. I just wish he’d made a couple more.

I give Hostel II 4 hunting club tattoos out of 5.

Jimmy’s review.

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In 2005 Eli Roth unleashed a brutal leviathan of horror on the unsuspecting movieogers used to jump scares and tawdry “haunted” flicks.  Despite some outcry and the film being banned in several markets it went on to gross a pretty penny.  Most of the backlash which resulted in the ugly (I hate it) term, Torture Porn came from fair weather “theater” horror fans sanitized by good but without edge films like The Others and it’s many clones.  Eli made a good movie which bothered folks because not only was it horrific in nature (average citizens bidding for the right to torture and kill) but very possibly a reality.

Two years later Roth tried to replicate his success and while the numbers dwindled in comparison to the first film, he succeeded. Whereas the original was uneven and tentative, part II rectified everything in a psuedo violent tour-de-force that set the horror world on it’s head.  By picking up where the first film left off and adding a trio of female protagonists (victims), Roth upped the ante and final realized his original vision.

The acting here is above average for this foray and right where it needs to be.  Laura German is a standout as Beth whose trials, excursions and finally triumph is a wonder to behold.  This film will not appeal to all but I believe both films are cautionary tales that SHOULD be seen if for nothing else to confirm a golden rule…never stray from the beaten path in a foreign country.  Similar ground was mined from the almost equally entertaining, TURISTAS.

But despite the blood and sex and death and torture and mutilation is it any good?  Actually the answer is a resounding yes.  Like the disturbing DEVIL’S REJECTS, H2 employs elements that COULD be shock tactics and controvery pieces but wraps and presents them with good production, great pacing and a really immersive storyline.  At times the proceedings transcend the subject matter by horrifying you in other ways.  Near the beginning when multiple persons are shown bidding via phone or computer to kill and maim, their matter of fact approach and almost non-chalant mannerisms are chilling.  The old man bidding while his grandchild unaware on the Carousel and montage of all the other ordinary citizens (creeps) is one of the chilling and scariest scenes ever in it’s matter of fact presentation.  A statement that this happens and it’s, easy for some.

Final Analysis:

A rip-roaring, ultra-violent excursion into depravity that includes elements of extreme dread and of course buckets of gore and blood but also serves as a chilling reminder of the cold, evil that resides in the human heart.  Entertaining as it is disturbing.  Evil DOES exist, Eli is simply reminding us.

4/5 stars (imbedded into flesh!)

Luca’s review.
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There are aspects I love about this sequel, some ideas that I found interesting and a few concepts I consider iffy or just plain stupid.

Let’s start from the positives. Eli Roth decided to focus more on the shady organisation, making this movie not just richer – plot-wise – than the original, but also expanding upon the Hostel universe and making Part II very much necessary. Also, Stuart and Todd (the two Americans we follow closely) are very enthralling characters, intensely and effectively portrayed by Roger Bart and Richard Burgi. One is a psycho, a man with no apparent regard for human life; the other is a more subdued, insecure character. However, a switch in their personalities is one of my biggest issue with the movie – more on that later.

Secondly, I love the cameos and the references the Bostonian filmmaker utilised in this movie. For example, the initial sequence set on a train from Rome to Slovakia pays homage to the Italian rape and revenge flick Night Train Murders (1975); in the place where rich people torture and kill naïve victims, we get to see that one of the assholes is played by Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) who portraits, of course, a cannibal! We also get to take a quick glance at some amusing Tarantino’s references.

Yet, this is the first time Eli Roth could rely on a bigger budget: Hostel: Part II looks much neater and more polished than Roth’s previous works, featuring great cinematography, awesome locations and set design, original and never dull camera-work. The downside is that this sequel looks more cinematic than the original, in which rawness and nihilism made the viewing experience all the more terrifying and slightly disturbing.

Although I undoubtedly like and enjoy Hostel: Part II, my main issue with it is, in fact, the lack of realism. It’s not just the way the movie looks, but also the way it sounds: during the iconic torture scene (the “bloodbath”), the sound the metal sickle makes on the woman’s skin is so over-the-top and ridiculous. That specific scene, albeit enjoyable and great looking, is not nearly as effective as any of the torture in the first movie, because it’s stylised and lacks realism and impact.

Then, I have a problem with the characters. The three main girls are one-dimensional and, unlike Paxton in the first movie, they don’t develop as the film goes by. The final girl (Beth, played by Lauren German) is badass and likeable, but still doesn’t look like a real person. Yet, at one point towards the end, Stuart goes all psycho and Todd chickens out: why does it happen? It’s most luckily due to lazy writing and really made no sense, since there was no hint it could’ve happened.

The lazy writing is also responsible for the cringe-worthy ending: first, Beth buys her way out of the facility and, then, she kills one of the villains while pronouncing a corny one-liner that really made me go like: “oh no…”.

Hostel: Part II            7/10 (3.5/5 on Jimmy and Vanessa’s scale)

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