Mark Reviews Movies


Zero Stars (out of 4)

Director: Eli Roth

Cast: Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova, Milan Knazko, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd

MPAA Rating: R (for sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language and some drug content)

Running Time: 1:33

Release Date: 6/8/07

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Review by Mark Dujsik

Hostel was garbage. Hostel: Part II is that same garbage moved over about a foot on the ground. Not only is the sequel more despicable than the original, it also teems with laziness. Writer/director Eli Roth is still in need of major psychological help, but he could use a motivational speaking session or career self-help book to boot. Every element of the original is here, and even though this is only the first sequel, the formula is so transparent, so tired, it takes about fifty minutes into the movie to actually start hating it instead of just being completely bored by it. There's more of the same blood and gore and people getting off on torture and murder and troubling attempts at comedy within those moments, yet it's shocking how tedious the whole thing is as well. We know every step this movie is going to take soon after its prologue, and it's painfully obvious how shallow Roth's plotting is. Tonally, the movie is all about setting up some nonexistent mood with cryptic characters and heavy foreshadowing, but it's already a foregone conclusion what will happen and who it will happen to. The only question that remains is how sickening the whole thing will play out.

The movie starts where the first one ended, with Paxton (Jay Hernandez), our victim/hero from the original, being interrogated about the events in a rundown factory and getting eviscerated. Don't worry, though, it's all a dream, but the next morning, well, that's a different story. That's when we catch up with our new inevitable victims, three college girls named Beth, Lorna, and Whitney (Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, and Bijou Phillips) who are in Rome studying art and getting ready to leave for Prague. It's interesting that Roth shows a male nude model but cuts right before the female model Axelle (Vera Jordanova) disrobes; it's almost as if he's playing with expectations. Don't expect that to go beyond this scene, though. On the train to Prague, Axelle suggests the girls go to Slovakia to take in the natural hot springs. They agree, and upon arrival, take up boarding in—you guessed it—a local hostel, complete with a creepy clerk. Meanwhile, the girls are being bid on by the homicidal club of the original, and some dude named Todd (Richard Burgi) wins the bidding and gives one of them to his buddy Stuart (Roger Bart) as a birthday present.

The concept of examining the people who want to torture and kill anonymous people is intriguing and just the kind of relevant material that would make this more than an exploitative vomitorium. The problem is, this is Eli Roth, and he doesn't care. Instead, the movie has the girls meeting lots of sinister people who give knowing looks, narrowly avoiding getting caught by them, and eventually being captured. All that material with the shifty-eyed people who give significant looks is blatant filler, and instead of actually attempting to build suspense, Roth relies on Nathan Barr's overbearing suspense score, which doesn't so much as punctuate moments as it beats them senseless. The same goes for the mysterious hunting club, whose leader Sasha (Milan Knazko) apparently isn't evil enough, what with receiving his enemies' heads in boxes, so Roth has a scene where he jams a gun in a line of children's faces and eventually shoots one of them. That'll teach the kids for helping out a sociopathic businessman. Meanwhile, Todd gets himself psyched for the big day, and Stuart looks anxious. It's a complete waste of the only potential this movie has.

Worse off are the girls, who Roth purposely writes to be more annoying than the other. The first movie had male victims, and the switch here just adds an overwhelming level of misogyny to the proceedings. Roth gives us no one with whom to sympathize, which leaves him free reign to do what he will with them. There's a reprehensible scene that combines two naked women, a scythe, and liberal amounts of blood that visually defines the concept of "torture porn," and once again, Roth tries to make jokes during these scenes. A girl is tied to a chair, and a guy approaches her with an electric saw. The cord's too short. Ha. That's nothing compared to the movie's climax where one character turns out to have some predictable psychological issues. The whole debacle ends, just like the first movie, with a turn to revenge torture (aided by the only piece of solid information about one of the characters Roth clumsily develops earlier) and a graphic emasculation (seriously, it's sick), and no, the whole idea of female empowerment through violence does not make up for the raging, hateful view towards women we've suffered through up until that point.

Just like its predecessor, Hostel: Part II is a depraved, repulsive monstrosity. It has no redeemable qualities. It's a clumsy, lazy, exhausted, and hollow piece of nihilism for nihilism's sake, and I think it's time for Roth to move on—and not just from this franchise.

Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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