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HOSTEL: PART II

SYNOPSIS:
Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), three young American women with little travel experience, are enjoying an Italian holiday. When they decide to take a weekend trip to Prague, and visit a medieval fair in the picturesque spa town of Cesky Krumlov, near Prague, they are lured to a unique hostel by Axelle (Vera Jordanova) a beautiful model they meet along the way, only to find their idyllic adventure turn into a fight for their lives. They are captives of the secret service, Elite Hunting, whose customers include the extreme torture-thrill-seeking men, such as rich American suburbanites Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Eli Roth knows his market: had the film been rated MA, he would have been disappointed in himself. All three of his horror films to date scrape away at the darker side of humanity in their pursuit of gory thrills. Cabin Fever was more jokey in tone, but still a brisk experience; Hostel turned up the heat considerably, but Hostel 2, without the novelty value, has only one place to go: even more extreme torture for the hostel guests in an offbeat Slovakian 'factory'. Regurgitating the same idea but swapping characters - and this time the victims are three young women - poses a question of Roth: what can you do to develop this concept (other than spend more money). There is certainly more focus on the perpetrators; we meet them back home, and while we don't know too much about their lives, we do get to know them enough for them to be more than cardboard cutouts.

The escalation of the horrors comes in a handful of strong scenes, including one in which a female client takes a blood bath. The blood isn't hers; it is supplied via a sadistic routine involving one of the victims, who hangs naked, upside down, above the special bath. But at least the room is candle lit - and that's because the client is getting her rocks off on this ritual. This is inventive, but it comes from nowhere and will be sure to fire indignation for its sheer thrill seeker stunt status in the film.

Other special moments include an accident with a mini chain saw, a cannibalistic scene with a live 'meal' and another involves dogs making a meal out of a customer. But the location is all very picturesque: Cesky Krumlov is a fabulously quaint World Heritage village outside Prague.

An under-developed element is a threatening gang of young bubble gum chewing kids, who prey on tourists for their dollar. The gang gets into the plot and there is a final twist involving them; they make for a strangely disquieting element. There is also a senseless scene in which one of the boys is randomly killed - and I can't fathom what purpose it serves in telling the story. We hardly need it emphasised that the killer (a central character in the plot) is a brute.

There are blemishes in story telling, blurring of clarity. But the film's core premise remains effective for the genre, and while horror is not a genre I particularly like (unless it's psychologically driven a la Hitchcock), Eli Roth proves again that he takes horror films seriously - and can make them well.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HOSTEL: PART II (R)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Roger Bart, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova, Jay Hernandes, Jordan Ladd, Edwine Fenech, Stanislav Ianevski, Zuzanna Gieslerova

PRODUCER: Eli Roth, Chris Briggs, Mike Fleiss

DIRECTOR: Eli Roth

SCRIPT: Eli Roth

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Milan Chadima

EDITOR: George Folsey jnr, Brad E Wilhite

MUSIC: Nathan Barr

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robb Wilson King

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 7, 2007







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