Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hostel Part II (2007)

**This review contains spoilers**

Following the events of Hostel, Paxton (Jay Hernandez)is still haunted by his nightmarish vacation in Slovakia. Fearing the wrath of the Elite Hunting Club, the secret organization based in Slovakia, where clients pay to torture and kill kidnapped victims in a murder-for-profit business, Paxton becomes a nervous and paranoid recluse, relying on medication to get through the day. Living with his girlfriend, Stephanie (Jordan Ladd) at her grandmother’s house, Paxton refuses to go to the police, or inform Josh’s mother of her son’s death, because he fears the possibility of the Elite Hunting Club coming back for revenge. Stephanie dismisses Paxton’s fear of the Elite Hunting Club as paranoia, until she finds Paxton’s beheaded body in the kitchen one morning. After his death, an Elite Hunting Club associate takes Paxton’s head to Slovakia as a trophy for the ruthless leader, Sasha (Milan Knazko).

In Italy, Beth (Lauren German), who is rich and can buy “anything” with an inheritance from her deceased  mother, and Whitney (Bijou Phillips) are studying art, while the nerdy outcast, Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) tags along. With pressure from a homesick and lonely Lorna, Beth allows her to go on a vacation with Whitney. On the train, Beth, Whitney, and Lorna are persuaded by Axelle (Vera Jordanova), a nude model from the art school, to go to the same death trap hostel in Slovakia, where Paxton, Josh, and Oli met Svetlana and Natalya. Axelle convinces them to try the natural steam springs, enjoy peace and quiet, and without suspecting anything fishy at first, Beth, Whitney, and Lorna believe they made the right choice.

Meanwhile, after Beth, Whitney, and Lorna give their passports to the clerk at the hostel, the clerk uploads their passports, and he submits each profile to biding members of the Elite Hunting Club all around the world on the company’s secret website. In America, Todd (Richard Burgi), a wealthy business man, wins the bids for Beth and Whitney. Todd purchased Whitney for himself, and Beth for his shy and wimpy friend, Stuart (Roger Bart). Todd, eager to know what it feels like to have the killer instinct, pushes a reluctant Stuart to fly with him to Slovakia to torture and kill Beth.

At a local festival, Lorana is lured away and set up by a local named Roman, an associate for the Elite Hunting Club. Shortly after Lorna’s disappearance, Whtiney is taken, and Beth is saved by Axelle and Sasha, as the notorious gang of youg hooligans use sticks to savagely beat Beth in the woods. At Sasha’s mansion, Beth discovers the truth, as more Elite Hunting Club associates arrive to finally take her to the factory: Axelle is responsible for Whitney and Lorna’s disappearances, because she’s one of Sasha’s top associates, who lure innocent tourists and victims into the clutches of the Elite Hunting Club. After noticing the picture of the man, who “stole” Lorna’s iPod (it was a ploy by Axelle to gain Beth, Whitney, and Lorna’s trust, after Axelle “found” the iPod, returning it to Lorna) on the train, Beth tries to run. But she accidentally finds Sasha’s trophy room of human heads (including Paxton’s head), as the Elite Hunting associates take Beth to Stuart at the factory…..

Stronger overall cast than Hostel. Heather Matarazzo is spot on as the shy geek. I didn’t have a problem with her character or performance, but I hated The Divide, and Lauren German probably had the most memorable scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (“he’s a very bad man”). German has a very believable nasty mean streak, when someone pushes her too far, or insults her (the sleazy Italian guy on the train, and Stuart) by using the word “cunt.” The Beth character is kind of dull overall, but German has a few memorable moments, when Beth snaps, and during the end, as she tries to talk Stuart out of killing her (more on that later). Lorna hit the nail on the head, when describing Bijou Phillips’ Whitney by calling her a “raving bitch.” Phillips is entertaining as this catty and flirty yong woman, but her character is annoying after the kidnapping, because Whitney turns into the typical damsel in distress, who screams for help every five seconds.

And I might be alone in feeling this way, but it’s hard for me to feel sympathy for Lorna‘s death. Whitney and Beth get a few passes from me, because Whitney was blind sided by her abduction, and Beth was the sharp one in the group, always suspicious of everything throughout the movie…..well until she goes to Sasha’s mansion. Of course, Axelle lies about her ties to Sasha, but when Beth is walking up the staircase with Axelle, there’s a GIANT painting of Axelle on the wall. At this point, Beth still had time to escape and run for her life, but for some odd reason, she didn’t notice anything odd about Sasha’s painting of Axelle in HIS mansion? Seriously? Anyway, back to Lorna. Yeah, I get Roman saw an easy target, because she’s lonely and insecure, but come on now. You’re going to trust some strange guy you just met on a boat ride to the middle of nowhere? And when they arrive at the spot, where Lorna is kidnapped and taken to the factory, Roman is suddenly capable of speaking perfect and fluent English? Ugh.

Milan Knazko’s is a perfect fit for the cold-hearted monster Sasha, and what else would you expect from a man, who runs a murder-for-profit business? Jordanova is an enjoyable devious trader, and she gets what’s coming to her at the end. Richard Burgi is an obnoxious and douchey jackass, and Roger Bart’s nerdy and insecure Stuart provides some comic relief….until the drastic character revelations at the very end (more on that later). I’m glad Roth brought back the young gang of hooligans, who are always good for some laughs. Although, I could’ve done without that smug weirdo, who’s a clerk at the hostel (he’s the clerk, who uploads the passports), and for what it’s worth, the older guy with the stylish beard (the guy at the booth, who told Paxton it’s “free,” when Svetlana lured him into the factory) returns for a cameo.

Roth also gives praised Italian director Ruggero Deodato a cameo. He’s the torturer, who literally carves up the guy Whitney met at the hostel, and flirted with afterwards. Roth is a huge fan of Deodato’s work, and he adores Cannibal Holocaust, so the cameo isn’t a big shock. I’ve never actually seen Deodato, and I didn’t even know it was him until Roth pointed it out on the director’s commentary. 

Attention to detail. It’s why one of the main reasons why I enjoy Hostel Part II. Remember how Paxton escaped in the original? It’s not that easy the second time around. You have to have a clearance code to leave the torture rooms, AND after that, Elite Hunting associates in the security room are the only ones, who can open the door from the control panel. Whitney tries to escape after attacking the makeup artist, but cage doors block every exit. With Paxton in the original, this wasn’t a problem. That’s one of the reasons why I appreciate the changes in Hostel Part II. Eli Roth changed the environment at the factory, making it harder for the victims to escape, and closing any gaps in logic for the sequel.

Roth also gives us a more in-depth look at the Elite Hunting Club and the members. Roth shows us how the members bid for their victims, the mandatory bloodhound tattoos, each member is given a pager that goes off, when the victim is ready, and the Elite Hunting Club offers discounts for damaged victims. And Roth adds more mystique to the Elite Hunting Club with Paxton explaining Elite Hunting’s ties into everything by having members in governments, hospitals, and police forces all around the world, who constantly keep a watchful eye over everything. Also, we learn more about the motivations from Elite Hunting Club members for killing. Todd wants to be a bad ass, and he thinks killing Whitney will help him achieve his goal. But Stuart is pushed into Elite Hunting by Todd.

But Stuart and Todd have two very different revelations in the torture rooms at the factory. Todd FREAKS out, when he accidentally cuts into Whitney’s skull with an electrical saw. Devastated by his actions, Todd tries to runaway, but attack dogs literally tear him to pieces in the elevator. Stuart on the other hand, snaps when Beth says he’s “not that guy.” Stuart, sick of being labeled the nice guy, attacks Beth, and decides to try and kill her after Beth and Todd agreed to escape the factory together. This double twist is a BIG shocker, because throughout the movie, Todd constantly brags about finally getting the chance to kill, and Stuart was petrified at the thought of taking a life.

The gore and violence is more extreme and nasty this time around, and Eli Roth doesn’t hold anything back. Lorna’s death features the most blood, Whitney’s demise is gruesome, because she actually survives Todd’s mistake with the saw, and she’s forced to suffer afterwards.

Beth using a really big pair of scissors to cut off Stuart’s genitals, and Beth feeding Stuart's "remains" to the attack dogs for food? Wow. Shocking, grotesque, and a clear cut choice for the number one hard-to-watch moment in this film.

Kudos to Eli Roth for delivering a satisfying sequel to Hostel. So many times we see a lazy and uninspired follow up to a successful, low-budget mainstream horror film, but Hostel Part II doesn’t fall into that category. Roth was able to maintain and enhance the deadly reputation of the Elite Hunting Club, and give Elite Hunting a face by introducing Sasha. Roth also introduce new characters with different backstories and motivations (i.e. the cast of protagonists aren’t limited to a bunch of horny male tourists), and he added some crucial details to the story. The intro with Paxton dreaming about an attack by the Elite Hunting Club in Europe, and then waking up to a real life beheading is just unreal. But in the end, Roth delivers the long-awaited satisfying payoff, as Stuart and Axelle get what they deserve with Beth extracting revenge on both of them (Beth Kills Axell after the gang of young hooligans lure her into the woods and a trip wire. Beth comes out of hiding, and uses an axe to cut off Axell’s head).

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. She had a pistol in her right hand and with that she could have easily shoot him but instead did a thing which is profane and antichrist (or inhuman). It was totally immature. Stuart just wanted to sex with her instead of killing her, which I think is ok. What she did was the height of irrationality. Even if a place like this existed, the whole world would find out any