Originally slated for release in January, the studio thought that it would fare better in the summer heat. So, here we are, June is here and Eli Roth's torture film has arrived on the big screen, sure to be a prime target of critics everywhere.
I was all set to go in and hate the movie, or at least dislike it. There is just something about how they go about marketing it as the most shocking horror film. I just cannot accept that the goriest most disturbing film will be one that gets through the modern MPAA system with an R rating. I cannot and will not believe that. Sure, there was The Exorcist, but that is not terribly gory and I believe the MPAA was a slightly different beast then. Anyway, back to the movie at hand. Surprisingly, I walked out satisfied with what I have seen, in contrast to the bits of early reviews saying that it was boring and/or not all that good.
Hostel Part II begins with a sequence aimed to horrify, yet I found it slow, boring, and ultimately not needed. Not a good start, if you ask me. The scene centers on Paxton (Jay Hernandez), the surviving hero of the first film, he is in hiding, afraid that the Elite Hunters will trake him down and finish the job. The scene really has no connection to the rest of the movie and only serves to tie up the perceived loose end from the original film. I have to question the need to even go back to the first movie. Why was it necessary to go back to Paxton's tale? Wasn't it enough that he got away, got his revenge, and returned to his life? I would have been much more satisfied with that, rather than the scene tacked on to kick this entry off. OK, not a good start.
After the opening scene, the movie slips into the formula mined for the first film, except instead of the three backpacking guys, it is a trio of young women off for a weekend getaway while studying in Rome. While on their journey, they are approached by a woman who tells them of these springs in Slovakia that they should visit. Now, we all know what is going to happen. While the first film had that lulling effect in the first half, where you are not sure what is going to happen or when, that feeling of building suspense is gone. We all know where this is leading, and at some points, I just wished they would hurry up and get to the gore already. Still, I found the journey of these women to be a bit more interesting than the journey of the guys last time. The movie did drag a couple of times, but I still felt oddly compelled.
With the lack of any real suspense for the audience in the first half of the movie, Eli Roth had to do something to keep us interested, and this is where the first of the additions takes place. Enter Roger Bart and Richard Burgi, reuniting for the first time since their time together on Desperate Housewives, as Stuart and Todd. These are two of the would be killers who are to become Elite Hunters. We get to spend a good deal of time with these two as we watch them approach the deed. These scenes are the best in the movie, they create these fascinating individuals, and while we do not learn much of their history, enough is revealed to make them just great to watch as they interact with each other and the potential victims.
Take those two threads, the girls lured into danger and the killers nearing their destiny, and weave them together and you have a movie whose suspense is restored as we near the second half, where the blood makes its appearance. I felt like there was less nudity and less gore this time around, but it seemed to be more effective. Then there is the "twist" ending, which, while not the "most shocking ending in horror history" as the commercials would like you to believe, was still surprising, it caught me off-guard anyway.
Eli Roth is a good director, may still have some issues with pacing, but he has a good eye, and an odd penchant for creepy kids. He has given this film a good look, and may have delivered a sequel that outdoes its predecessor (minus that opening scene nonsense, anyway). The performances were effective, for the most part, though I really wanted to see Bijou Phillips die. Bart and Burgi stole the show, and Lauren German does a fine job as the lead. Like the prior film, this one has a cameo by a horror director that has had an impact on Roth, Hostel had Takashi Miike, this time out we get notorious Italian director Ruggero Deodato (of Cannibal Holocaust fame), credited as The Italian Cannibal.
Bottomline. I wasn't sure at first, but it succeeded in winning me over and by the time the ending rolled around, I was sold. There is some nice gore, a weird horror/comedic vibe that was not executed all that well but still worked in creating this weird movie-universe where stuff like this actually happens. In the end, I liked it, I am unapologetic, and I am sure some of you may like it too.Powered by Sidelines