If the idea of a sequel is to build upon the first film, ratcheting up the intensity while remaining true to the original premise, "Hostel...
If the idea of a sequel is to build upon the first film, ratcheting up the intensity while remaining true to the original premise, “Hostel: Part II” is a decent second chapter in the tourist-horror saga.
It has more blood and nastier killings than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the pacing is creakier. It takes a bit too long to get to the Slovakian hell house where wealthy clients pay top dollar to murder backpackers for thrills.
The original “Hostel” was a slow ride to a sick finale. The new movie lurches and stalls as it heads toward the conclusion. Patience is rewarded, however, with a cathartic third act featuring ingeniously gruesome setups.
Writer-director Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever”) again proves he knows how to shock and nauseate. It’s something of an accomplishment to stage deaths so disgusting that the main reaction is nervous laughter.
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Showtimes and trailer
“Hostel: Part II,” with Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo. Written and directed by Eli Roth.
96 minutes. Rated R for sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language and some drug content.
While the ending is impressive, there are nagging plausibility questions that linger after you leave the theater. Like, why do the victims go to Slovakia in the first place?
In the first movie, it was believable that rowdy guys would change their travel itinerary in pursuit of beautiful, sex-starved women. Here, we meet college girls who make an unlikely detour after hearing about a secluded spa resort. For some reason, the girls don’t question anything when their guide (Vera Jordanova) leads them to a student hostel instead of a luxury spa.
Roth enjoys breaking genre rules and testing audience thresholds. He has a tendency to make the most innocent characters suffer the worst. Heather Matarazzo — no stranger to torture, having worked with emotional sadist Todd Solondz on “Welcome to the Dollhouse” — plays a naive bookworm who wanders straight into a grotesque trap after indulging in a few sips of spiked cider.
The other two heroines are a brooding heiress, Beth (Lauren German), and a ditzy party girl, Whitney (Bijou Phillips), neither of whom stands out in the personality department. The filmmaker mixes things up by following the parallel story of the young women’s would-be killers, two American businessmen (Tony winner Roger Bart and Richard Burgi) traveling overseas to kill as a male-bonding experience.
In its own demented way, the second movie is more politically correct than the first. There are a few shots of male full-frontal nudity, as Roth offers a response of sorts to those who criticized “Hostel” for its lurid depictions of women. Horrible things happen to the girls, but the men don’t have an easy time either. There’s a little more gender balance to the exploitation this time around.