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  Hostel Part II Trip Into Terror
Year: 2007
Director: Eli Roth
Stars: Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd, Milan Knazko, Edwige Fenech, Stanislav Ianevski, Patrik Zigo, Zuzana Geislerová, Ivan Furak, Monika Malacova, Luc Merenda
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Paxton (Jay Hernandez) has been through an ordeal in Eastern Europe, what should have been a few weeks of backpacking fun. He now lies in hospital, recovering from injuries sustained when he and his friends were kidnapped by a shadowy group who torture innocent people to death - he managed to escape, but now the police are sniffing around for an interview. He agrees, but is cagey with his answers, mentioning that all the syndicate had bloodhound tattoos but neglecting to point out those he was forced to kill in his attempts to get away. So when the inspector reveals his own bloodhound tattoo, Paxton starts yelling...

...but it's okay, it's only a dream sequence. Then again, it's not okay as although Paxton is hiding out at a secluded location, the syndicate catch up with him nevertheless. And that's just the first ten minutes of the sequel to the hit shocker Hostel, which at first glance appears to have been made for the fans alone, yet on second look seems to be taking the gorehounds to task. All the while giving them what they want, sure, but still questioning their motives. As with the first film, there's a good chunk of the running time devoted to character set up.

Which is unusual for films that were happy to slot themselves into the slasher genre, but while in the last instalment it felt as if there was a lot of pussyfooting around, here the satirical barbs at Americans abroad are a little more focused, less shallow as our three potential victims are female this time. All art students in Italy when we meet them, there's sensible Beth (Lauren German), bitchy Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and callow Lorna (Heather Matarazzo). They are supposed to be heading for Prague next, but are distracted on the train journey there by life model Axelle (Vera Jordanova) who offers a "better" idea.

Axelle's suggestion is that they go to Slovakia and soak up the springs there for a weekend of relaxation. After a brush with unfriendly Europeans on the train, they're only too happy to agree, and alight at what those in the know will recognise as the syndicate's village from the first film. So far, so average, but writer and director Eli Roth makes sure to have his three leads sympathetic, even Whitney doesn't seem so bad once you get to know her and as strangers in town they feel more vulnerable, although how vulnerable they don't realise until it's too late. After a few drinks, they lose their inhibitions at a festival, and find there's hell to pay for their missteps.

Yet while nice Lorna is spirited away to a torture chamber for the expected slicing and dicing, it's at this point the film says, wait a minute, that's what you wanted to see but have you asked yourself why? For there are two other Americans we have been following, businessmen Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart), and they have recently signed up to murder people at the hostel. Todd is bullish and eager, but Stuart is not as keen as he would like Todd to think although second thoughts are apparently not an option where the all pervasive syndicate are involved.

These characters are stand-ins for the horror fans, an self-examination is the order of the day as Roth questions the morality of presenting torture as entertainment through them, and further to that the need to prove to prove yourself dominant through violent acts: both in real life and in your tolerance for them in the movies. The conclusion appears to be that, in such a moral genre as horror, they have to deserve their punishment for it to be justified, otherwise you're wallowing in violence for the sake of it. By making us cheer on the table-turning victims at the (admittedly silly) end, Roth shows unsuspected depths, laying out the questionable aspects of Part I as if he had a crisis of conscience between that and making Part II. This film was a flop on release, perhaps indicating that such navel-gazing, while making for a richer film, wasn't what the mainstream wanted to contemplate in their horror movies. Music by Nathan Barr.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Eli Roth  (1972 - )

American director heavily influenced by 70s and 80s horror. Debuted with the successful splatter comedy Cabin Fever, and followed this up with the gory hit Hostel and its less successful sequel. Later, he directed cannibal shocker The Green Inferno and thriller remake Knock Knock, plus another remake, Death Wish and kids' horror The House with the Clock in its Walls. Roth has also produced 2001 Maniacs, a remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis's Two Thousand Maniacs! and a Cabin Fever remake among others as well as acted in friend Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

 
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