Directed by: Eli Roth
Premise: Sequel to the 2005 film. In this installment, three female American travelers (Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Lauren German) come across the same Slovakian hostel from the first film and become fodder for rich thrill killers.
What Works: Hostel: Part II is the rare sequel that surpasses the original film. Where the first Hostel was marred by a stupid first half that featured obnoxious characters and scenarios right out of Eurotrip, this film is much smarter. The three female travelers are credible and their interaction with the European countryside is more sympathetic and credible than the male travelers of the original film. The three women are distinct, individual characters, inasmuch as the genre allows, and their fates are more frightening and dreadful as a result. This film also has the distinction of characterizing the villains more fully, focusing on two Americans, one who is experienced and eager (Richard Burgi) and who initiates his more timid friend (Roger Bart) into the subculture of murder. This is a fascinating storyline that parallels the journey of the female travelers. Where the main redemptive quality of the first Hostel was its smart but subtle indictment of Americans exploiting other cultures, Part II delves into white male misogyny in a brief but penetrating way that raises some interesting ideas about violence against and exploitation of women, the men who do it, and the systems that support it. Further, both Hostel films can be viewed as commentary on post-Cold War politics and culture in Eastern Europe, and particularly the influence of America and capitalism in this part of the world. Once again, this second film expands and improves on these themes.
What Doesn’t: Hostel: Part II does not provide many story surprises along the way. Like Friday the 13th Part 2, the film repeats a lot of the structure of the original film and in many ways does it better, but viewers who are looking for a fresher Hostel experience won’t find it here.
Bottom Line: Hostel: Part II is a very good horror film. Fans of the original film will be very pleased but Hostel: Part II is a film whose crossover appeal may be limited by the audience member’s tolerance for gore, which is more extreme in this film than in any other R-rated splatter film in years. Otherwise, Hostel: Part II is a great horror film made for both gore hounds and serious film aficionados.
Note: Look for a cameo by Cannibal Holocaustdirector Ruggero Deodato credited as the “The Italian Cannibal.”
Episode: #144 (June 10, 2007)