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HOSTEL PART II

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Lauren German, Rogert Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi
Director:  Eli Roth
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  95 Minutes
Release Date:  October 23, 2007

“What is this place??”

Film (zero stars)

When I told a friend of mine about having to review the Hostel movies for the site, he asked me to tell him what they were about.  I did…briefly…and his response was, “Why would anyone want to watch something like that?”

It turned out to be a good question.  While I gave Eli Roth’s Hostel a cautiously favorable review, I felt no such inclination with Hostel Part II.  The original film had at least some element of surprise.  For the sequel, having established the premise previously, Roth felt no need to delve into character development or plot this time around.  That’s not always a critical flaw for horror.  What is a critical flaw is when it’s not the least bit scary.

I didn’t care for his directorial debut Cabin Fever, but I thought the work still showed some promise.  I felt Hostel had delivered somewhat on that promise.  But with this sequel, I feel like I’ve sent the jury back to deliberate on the merits of Mr. Roth.  Maybe I gave him too much credit.  Maybe he really is just a gore fanatic without any clue as to what makes a horror film truly frightening.

We are back in Europe, where a group of American students soon find themselves picked out and victimized by the hostel, where as a business foreign tourists are captured and provided for well-paying clients who enjoy torturing and killing them.  So no, those who go in for the experience don’t get to exit through a gift shop.

You don’t get close to any of the women…I don’t really remember any names.  What you really remember is how they get dispatched, and, I suppose, in an attempt to be clever, do some dispatching of their own.  It’s a grisly tale of suffering, brutality and bloodletting without a single redeeming quality to make you feel like this is a film crafted by a real human being with a soul.

I’m not squeamish, but my idea of entertainment is not some large production version of a snuff film.  I like to be scared out of my gourd, but not endurance challenges that make me feel like I must have lost a bet or something.  Indeed…why WOULD anyone want to watch something like this?

Video ***1/2

This is an impressive anamorphic transfer from Sony…despite being a mostly dark-looking film, I really only noticed one or two brief instances where images seemed a little murky and unclear.  A difficult task, but pulled off quite nicely.

Audio ****

As with the first film, the audio really opens up the experience, and the dynamic range combined with a lot of ambient effects from the surrounds make this a creepy and effective listen.

Features ****

Commentaries galore, starting with Eli Roth, then one with him and Quentin Tarantino and associated producer Gabriel Roth, and one with Eli and his cast.  There are ten deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, featurettes on the effects and production design, an international television special, a gag reel, and a radio interview with Roth.

Summary:

Eli Roth should examine his conscience.  Hostel Part II is not the kind of movie that offers any rational human being anything but indulgence of the most base part of our existence, which seems a lot stronger for him than it does for the rest of us.

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