Friday, June 15, 2007

Hostel: Part II

Title: Hostel: Part II (2007)
Dir: Eli Roth
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Some people think Eli Roth's Hostel films are overrated, but I think they're misunderstood. This especially applies to Hostel: Part II, which managed to surpass its predecessor, though few people seemed to notice. It has less gratuitious torture, more character development, a more developed story, and a better cast. And somehow it gets an even worse rap than the first film!

In this installment, three American college students are taking a trip across Europe. After some scary encounters with the crazy residents, the girls meet a charming Eastern European woman who entices them to come to Slovakia, so they oblige. They stay at the infamous hostel from the first film, and are they soon sold to bored businessmen and rich sadists to be tortured/raped/killed/whatever the customer wants.

What makes Hostel II very interesting to me is seeing this torture industry from the other side. We see the head honchos, the initiation of new members, and "normal" people from all over the world bidding for victims on their PDAs like it's an eBay auction. This is a fascinating idea to me. Oddly enough, I find it highly believable! Roth really taps into human beings' natural sadism and fetishism.

Just as with Hostel, there is more going on here than just a bunch of young people being sliced up. I think Roth toned down the gore in this sequel to help drive home that very point. This film also has some genuinely likable characters. Lauren German is really good as the lead character, Beth, one of the three girls on the trip. And Roger Bart (of Broadway fame) is frickin awesome in this. He is very much cast against-type, and I LOVE it. Anyway, Hostel II's deeper themes and enjoyable characters are what set this film above generic torture-porn films. I only wish more people realized what this film has to offer.