For whatever reasons, 2005’s Hostel garnered an air of infamy for its extreme torture sequences in the final third of the film. Perhaps those last 30 minutes clouded the memory of the intense boredom that saturated the first hour. Luckily, Hostel Part II sets out to remind how boring the concept of paying to torture people can truly be in the hands of director Eli Roth. Like the first, the characters are merely meat for the grinder and, other than the prospect of violence, there’s very little reason to watch. Relying purely on violence to create the terror, Roth’s filmmaking is no better than his villain who holds a gun to the head of a child – and pulls the trigger.
The return to the Bates’ Hostel picks up right where the first left off. In a silly recap of the first film, survivor Paxton is quickly dismembered and the film follows three young and supple female art students heading for a relaxing weekend at a Slovakian spa. And where better to stay than an inexpensive hostel? The movie drags on for about an hour before the three girls are finally abducted and taken to the torture house. Of course, you don’t care about the three one-dimensional caricatures, so the setup is void of any tension.
In a somewhat interesting side plot, Roth introduces the other side of the torture business as we follow two friends who have paid to maim and kill. Unfortunately, this story line isn’t give the screen time or thought it deserves and comes off just as empty as the three girls’ Euro-trip. The reason the men want to murder is quickly chalked up to power and testosterone. Instead of investigating the nature of violence and power, these motives are simply a side bar to unrestrained violence.
If Roth had the desire to make a film that truly terrified audiences, rather than schlock-shock, he could have told the entire story through the torturer point of view. Why would a person want to torture another? How does torturer feel about the entire process, from the opening bid on the victim to the gruesome end? How does it change a person? These are questions that Hostel Part II has no interest in asking. Instead, it answers the questions of “How do you set up a movie to cut a man’s balls off?”
From ritualistic killing to murdering children, Hostel Part II is caught up in the franchise’s own mystic and tunnel-visioned into taking its violence to outrageous ends that it fumbles the story and creates a film that feels more like an extreme I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The gore in the first Hostel played out like tongue-in-cheek B-movie violence, stirring the media into a frenzy and helping to coin the term “torture porn.” Ironically, Hostel Part II finally delivers on what the media promised. While some may toss around the clever “torture porn,” there is a simpler for Hostel Part II -- trash.
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