Takashi Miike is known for making films where the last half hour is just insane violence, pulling you along with no idea of where it’s going to end up. After seeing “Hostel: Part II,” I’d like to add Eli Roth to that type of filmmaker (to an extent, Roth has a long way to go before he and Miike can be in the same paragraph again). The rub in the case of “Hostel: Part II,” however, is that the general storyline is now repetitive, making the journey of the film lackluster and not worth sitting through, despite the experience of the final fifteen minutes’ gory ending.
Bijou Phillips, Lauren German, and Heather Matarazzo play three American college students backpacking through Europe, where they meet a beautiful foreign woman who takes them to Slovakia for what seems like a great trip and ends in them being part of a sick game for the rich. Yes, the plot is basically the same as the first “Hostel.” The only two differences are that now the three characters are female and we get to see aspects of the sick game from the perspective of the men who pay to kill these women. Roger Bart and Richard Burgi play Stuart and Todd, respectively, the two rich friends from America who have come across the hostel, and are willing to pay to torture innocents.
I liked the addition of seeing what it is like for the people who pay to kill others, it offers more of a social commentary than just “bad things happen in foreign countries” vibe. Overall, though, writer/director Eli Roth really didn’t give a reason for us to care about any of these new characters beyond the social commentary curiosity. That has to be my biggest issue with this film: “Hostel: Part II” doesn’t give you characters, it just gives you caricatures of what would or could be people and in doing so separated the audience from their emotions (beyond “ewwwww”) and I really didn’t care if anyone lived or died. On top of that, in the first film it was unpredictable who was going to live and die, but I knew immediately who was going to live from this one. I’ll give you a hint, it’s the less annoying of the characters.
This was probably Bijou Phillips best role next to “Bully,” but that isn’t saying much since I still can’t stand her whiney voice. Additionally, even though I hated Heather Matarazzo’s performance and her character so much, I was really squeamish during her torture scene. And since I am talking about a torture scene, I might as well talk about the gore in this film since obviously no one buys tickets for this film to see a thought-provoking plot.
The last fifteen minutes of this film have some pretty nasty, bloody moments, but really other than that there isn’t a whole bunch of blood in this one. I mean, yeah, there is a decapitated stump at the beginning but if I am the type to go to see a “Hostel” film basd on my enjoyment of the first one, I want buckets of blood. Maybe the reason the film isn’t as bloody is because of a climactic moment at the very end of the film, and perhaps Roth wanted that one bloody moment in his R-rated film over having several lesser ones throughout. The last 15 minutes are intense and definitely the highlight of the film, yet I don’t think that they are worth the 78 or so minutes that is the rest of this derivative clone of the first movie.
How long is it going to take for American backpackers going through Slovakia to not trust beautiful foreign women and stay at creepy hostels? An even better question, how long is it going to take audiences to get bored with Eli Roth’s sub-par gore stories? OK, that’s harsh. I may have had problems with this movie, but it isn’t really the worst thing out there. I enjoyed seeing the two businessmen’s perspective and I am still thinking about the last 15 minutes of the film. Eli Roth has potential, I just think he should leave Slovakia alone and focus on bigger and better things.