“Quentin Tarantino presents” is imprinted almost in bigger letters than the title itself on the DVD cover for Hostel: Part II, which means the movie must be awesome right? Sorry to disappoint you old chap, but it’s quite the contrary. Eli Roth’s sequel to an already mediocre horror flick is a major disappointment, which does a great job at misleading its spectators by promising “shocking and explicit” content and letting them wait for an hour before they get to see the first drop of blood.
Hostel: Part II kicks off with an unnecessary prologue that follows Paxton (Jay Hernandez), the sole survivor from the first film, as he takes his final breaths before being decapitated at his girlfriend’s home. The film then abruptly switches to Rome, where three female college friends embark on a vacation trip to Prague. Once on the train, Beth (Lauren German), Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) and Whitney (Bijou Phillips) meet a stranger who talks them into traveling to Slovakia instead, and before we know it, the three surrender their passports to check into a room at a local hostel (although they could afford the Four Seasons). Minutes later, they are having a ball at a street festival, and sooner or later, all three friends end up chained to a chair in a massive torture house, involuntarily waiting to be slaughtered by rich freaks paying big bucks to kill innocent, and preferably American teenagers.
Much like the predecessor, it takes about 50 tedious minutes before something actually happens in Hostel: Part II. But once the action gets rolling, don’t expect to be surprised much. What follows are five gruesome torture scenes that are less intriguing but a lot bloodier than what we’ve seen in the first film, culminating in a showdown so simplistic and ridiculous, it could make you want to grab the closest knife and cut your own throat. For the most part, the script is even more pointless than that of the first Hostel, and character development is conspicuously absent. We really don’t care about who these girls are and what they do, or whether they die or not. Heck, I even admit that at multiple times during the movie I just hoped the butchers would get it done and over with faster.
The only halfway positive aspect there is to mention about this sequel is the idea of including numerous scenes that follow two friends who paid tens of thousands of dollars to try out this obscene torture business for themselves. It seems to me that Eli Roth tried to incorporate these characters to discuss people’s motivations behind paying a fortune to kill for fun, but if that was indeed his intention, he failed big time. Instead of focusing on what it really is that drives these men to engage in such a cruel matter, and how they look at it once they face their victim, the film quickly cripples this concept with a confusing and illogical twist.
Analyzing the cast doesn’t make much sense because there hardly are any noteworthy performances. Screaming is something anyone can do, and we get to listen to a lot of it during the second part of the film. Acting honors however go to Roger Bart, who plays one of the principal killers. He’s joined by Richard Burgi, whom most of you probably recognize from Desperate Housewifes. Hostel: Part II also marks the return to the big screen for Bijou Phillips, who once delivered that phenomenal performance in Larry Clark’s Bully. Her talent however, is nowhere to be seen in this film.
What is left at the end is a disappointing sequel by someone who in truth is not a bad filmmaker. Eli Roth has some interesting ideas, but it looks like he’s still having troubles penning a solid script. His direction is mostly flawless and his films always benefit from a great production design, but that, alas, is not enough for a good movie. Better not check into this hostel anymore.
The DVD for Hostel: Part II is loaded with substantial bonus material, including three feature-length commentaries by cast and crew. I honestly only listened to the one featuring Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino and Gabriel Roth because I could not stand watching the film four times, but for all hardcore fans of Eli Roth and filmmaker commentaries, this selection is definitely a nice treat. Tarantino and Roth briefly discuss the birth of the idea behind the sequel before moving on to the shooting of the film, which seemed to have been a lot of fun. The commentary is also fun for the listener because Tarantino mostly interrupts Eli and brother Gabriel, babbling about anything related or unrelated to the film with hardly any break.
Besides 10 boring deleted scenes and a mediocre 3-minute “Gag Reel,” the special features section also includes an informative 26-minute radio interview with Eli Roth. Quite personal and at the same time interesting, Roth talks about his view on violence and the true reasons why he decided to tell part of the film from the point of view of the two killers. He also reveals why he chose female victims this time and in what way Hostel: Part II at least tries to make sociological comments. Although this interview comes without pictures or scenes from the film, it’s probably the most entertaining of the special features, and also the most enlightening.
The disc also includes one hour worth of featurettes, which cover anything from make-up effects to production design. The most compelling piece is “The Art of KNB Effects,” which focuses on the different techniques the crew utilized to film the bloody torture scenes. Also worth checking out is the 6-minute segment on the production design, which I mentioned earlier, is pretty impressive. Eli Roth and his crew take the spectator on a tour across the impressive set of the movie, discussing with great detail the different challenges you face when shooting either on set or location. In short, most of these behind-the-scenes looks are a lot more engaging than the movie itself.
When the quality of the bonus material almost surpasses that of the feature film, it’s time to make a choice. Should you go rent the movie and watch it so you’ll be able to enjoy the extra stuff later on, or should you just skip the whole thing, and rent something else instead. Unless you are a special features section addict, I’m sure you’ll be better off picking an alternative. Again, it’s not worth checking into this hostel anymore.