Is it a coincidence that HOSTEL: PART II is seemingly similar to KILL BILL in structure, being that Quentin Tarantino and writer-director-producer Eli Roth are friends? Although two extremely different stories both films follow the same one-two punch combo; as Tarantino explained KILL Vol. 1 was all “kill, kill, kill” and Vol. 2 was all “Bill, Bill, Bill”, Roth’s HOSTEL: PART II could be defined the exact same way. HOSTEL is the violence without reason, while PART II dives deep into the depths of the syndicate behind the torture.
The story is set up pretty much exactly like the first as three American college students studying abroad are lured to a Slovakian hostel, and discover the grim reality behind it. The main difference is that this one features three females, which Eli hoped would make it more difficult to watch. Maybe you can blame desensitization, but I thought the first was more intense.
After HOSTEL hit theaters and was a success Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon and has been trying to emulate the style, intensity and originality of the film – only they haven’t been able to. I think Roth may have recognized that everything after HOSTEL lacked story, while the focus was all on the torturing of unsuspecting victims. This could translate to the reason why HOSTEL: PART II is Roth’s most mature film yet.
As shocking as it may sound, PART II doesn’t have many jokes or immature conversations between characters… even more shocking is that the film is less intense and less violent than the first. Roth spends most of the first hour developing characters and re-building the scenario… although the film does open with a “shocker” (one that I didn’t like all that much). The beautiful Lauren German plays Beth, the rich girl with soft side for Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), a girl who doesn’t quite fit in with others. Bijou Phillips plays Whitney, the easy-going, fun, slutty chick who is secretly soft inside. The horror-cliche trio blend together harmoniously creating a more believable atmosphere.
It was great getting to see what goes on behind the scenes, like people bidding on the girls with their cell phones. The DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES duo (Roger Bart and Richard Burgi) were phenomenal in their roles as two friends who decide to embark on a journey that will change the ‘essence of their beings’ forever. We get to see what it’s like through the eyes of the killer, which takes a little but away from the suspense (unmotivated killing are always more gut-wrenching).
Although the film is extremely violent, I don’t feel that Roth upped the ante enough – it felt more like a step backwards. Other than the Elizabeth Bathory sequence, it felt more like a thriller than an actual horror film – one kill was skipped over completely after a girl has her face maimed by a handsaw. Roth has been very outspoken about the differences between the two films, so I think he achieved his goal.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t LOVE the film. It was a fun time and I’ll definitely see it again. It dragged pretty heavy on a few occasions, the opening didn’t thrill me and the lack of gore disappointed me a bit; but there is a solid twist that ends the film on a high note that’s sure to have you leaving the theater in chatter. PART II wraps everything up pretty tight, where can they possibly go with HOSTEL: PART III?