Published Jun 08, 2007Ahh, the horror sequel; you can disguise it with a witty title (Dawn of the Dead, An American Werewolf in Paris) but in its truest form it will always be known as Part 2 (or Part 8, depending on the gall of the studio) and guaranteed to be bloodier, hornier and shittier than the original.
For the sequel to his ridiculously successful Hostel, director Eli Roth has turned his back on tradition and made a picture that is smarter, funnier and, surprise, surprise, better. Hostel was buoyed by enthusiasm but the story got lost attempting to establish its purpose by dragging incessantly and fulfilling a bloodlust that was beyond sickening. Many labelled it "torture porn, which has launched a whole new horror sub-genre, and to many, what Roth brought to the screen felt like an excuse to simply create the illusion that torturing and killing is fun, a hobby we should all try. While he doesnt exactly change his approach here, at least Roth has managed to focus more on allowing the viewer to have a little fun, instead of cringing and squirming.
Hostel: Part II does well justifying its existence from the start, picking up just after Paxton (Jay Hernandez) returns from his death-defying European vacation. Of course, hes unstable and fearing for his life, which knowing the people behind the torture ring, he should be. Flash forward to another European vacation: Beth (Lauren German), Lorna (Heather "Wiener Dog Matarazzo) and Whitney (Bijou Phillips) are a diverse posse of American girls on a backpacking trip. In Venice they meet Axelle, a beautiful model who lures them away from Prague to come soak in the hot springs of Slovakia. Big mistake, as you can guess, and the girls wind up exactly where youd expect.
However, what makes Hostel: Part II rise above its predecessor is an enjoyable parallel plot featuring the two men (both actors from Desperate Housewives not really sure why that is) that have bid on these young women to torture. One, of course, is dying to kill, while the other is apprehensive traits that affect how they react when they get to their big moments. The meetings between the torturer and the "torturee actually provide for some hilarious, yet still on-edge, moments, especially the strange woman that revels in her bloodbath (you got to see it to believe it). Laughter may be inappropriate but Roths script is crawling with awkward hilarity, especially a scene where some local problem children enjoy a good soccer match.
As well, Americans arent portrayed as obnoxiously this time, which allows you to connect with the victims and fear for their wellbeing a must for most horror flicks to really do their job. And while it may damage Slovakias reputation (Im now convinced its bursting with pay-as-you-go torture chambers), it easily surpasses the original in practically every way possible. Its also brought Roth back into my good books, so now I can happily anticipate Thanksgiving. (Maple)