Saturday, February 9, 2013

HOSTEL: PART II (2007) movie review

Hostel: Part II (2007) d. Roth, Eli (USA)

Eli Roth knows what he likes: Boobs and blood. In this follow up to his smash 2005 hit, he once again proffers plenty of both, but unfortunately, with the element of surprise gone, he has little else to offer. Since the mystery behind the sanguinary Slovakian hostel is already on the table, the erstwhile writer/director tries to expand his storyline by exploring the inner workings of the organization behind it all, as well as the prospective sadists who patronize it.

It’s an intriguing idea, and the underlying effort is felt, but unfortunately the film never quite gels, the scattershot results being far less satisfying than the original’s linear, protagonist-centered storyline. And considering that our female tourists/victims-to-be – Lauren German, Bijou Philips, and Heather Matarazzo – are thinly drawn and hardly sympathetic to begin with, this hydra-headed narrative approach further lessens viewer identification with them.

In fact, all of Roth’s characters this time around are shallow and unlikable, leaving us rooting for no one; the American businessmen (Roger Bart, Richard Burgi), eager to engage in this sordid pastime to assuage their fears of flagging masculinity, are pathetic and cartoonish, and the evil organizers are, well, evil with a capital E. (Even the juvenile delinquent “Bubblegum Gang” members are brought back for an encore appearance, but sadly given little to do.)

The scenes of gore, once again courtesy of KNB, are proficiently executed (with the Elizabeth Bathory sequence a high point), but the gratuitousness and nihilism – not to mention the painfully flimsy character shifts in the final act – ultimately leave a sour “wannaplease” taste behind that the original did not.

Roth’s penchant for cult genre cameos continues, with Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato sinking his teeth into a darkly amusing sequence.

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