Since I waited four years to check out Hostel, I thought I’d give it at least three until I viewed the sequel. After I surprisingly enjoyed the original (review here), I was happy to see the second film, which I have been told is better than the first. After seeing the female version, I mostly agree with that assessment…mostly.
"Am I drunk enough to be taken advantage of yet?"
Imagine the plot of the first Hostel with women playing the leads. What do you get? Less nudity, less dirt bags, and more high-pitched screaming. A group of young women (an overly promiscuous one, a nerdy sheltered one, and the middle-of the-road final girl one) are led to a Slovakian hostel by a gorgeous, manipulative woman only to be auctioned off for rich a-holes around the world. Since the setup is already known, Hostel: Part II is able to reveal more of the inner workings of the torture operation early on in the film. This time, we get to see a variety of anxious masochists drooling over fresh American blood in a hilarious montage of a bidding war. We are also privy to the story of two first-timers in the “hunting club.” The exchanges between the two men are sickly comedic, which is a tone that each Hostel film captures well.
Back to our party of pretties. The cast suit their roles perfectly; Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, and Heather Matarazzo are all believable, even if they don’t always have the best chemistry. The build-up in this film is much more well-directed and well-paced than in the original. Drawing in what appeared to be The Wicker Man homages, the production value in the set pieces is also far improved. With over double the budget (but still at $10 mill), Eli Roth was able to show off more of his visual directing skills. The cinematography and production design look great. Particularly vivid is the scene over the opening credits, as the contents of an American girl’s wallet are burnt. The rollicking flames captured in long lenses are almost seductive. Throughout the runtime, I enjoyed this atmospheric take on a mildly sardonic human trafficking film.
Don't worry, this happens all the time in Slovakia.
However, my greatest issues with the film are in the unfortunately brief third act. Just when things get going, it’s over before you know it. While the first and second acts of the sequel were much more enjoyable for me, I found myself longing for the same intense struggles of the first film. Where are all the cringe-inducing moments? Where are the desperate attempts to escape?
What made the first film so successful were obviously the gut-wrenching scenes of torture, but not necessarily just on-screen gore. In part, it was the threat of violence that was so disturbing—the taunting and teasing with macabre devices. *SPOILERS* The blood bath scene did a superb job of this, but it was the only time that the film really got my blood going. The sound of the blade scratching Lorna’s back was almost unbearable. When Whitney reached her demise, I expected to endure a similar feeling. Instead, she sort of fades away as soon as Beth is captured. While I could have used a more climactic final act, I did enjoy all of the plot’s offerings: the switch in behaviors of the two first-timers, and the way Beth manages to buy her way out of the situation. Just as the first film gave us an ending to cheer for, Roth again delivers a vengeful protagonist in the final moments. Let’s hope if they make a Hostel III, Beth doesn’t lose her head. *END SPOILERS*
She cleans up well.
This may sound strange, but I’m really rooting for another Hostel film. Saw needs some healthy competition and we are all eager for original horror films in the cinemas. So why the hell not?