When “Hostel Part II” failed to burst from the starting gates at the box office, there was many an interesting developments. The torture fad had officially drawn to a close with “entertainment insiders” lamenting the death of said fad that polluted theaters, horror geeks worried about the fate of hardcore gore filled horror films, and Eli Roth pretty much blamed everyone but himself. He blamed the bootleggers, he blamed critics, he blamed the studio, and hell, he warned of the death of R rated horror if his film did poorly. To date, two R rated horror films have been hits in the box office. The explanation toward the lethargic pacing of “Hostel Part II” at the box office can be summed up in a short sense. It was merely a retread of the first.
It’s a regurgitation of the first mediocre flick, except with all the obvious steps taken. Roth dives into the women in peril formula, casts his actresses in roles they’ve covered a million times over, and the homophobic overtones are even stronger this time with misogyny going hand in hand with the themes Roth injects into this product. Roth’s limp follow up to “Hostel” is a big step down in terms of quality, and sheer originality, and that’s saying a lot when you consider that “Hostel” itself was a rather sub-par and difficult little film all on its own. From the searing inherent homophobia, to the one dimensional plot, Roth follows his attempts at breaking the horror clichés by… reverting back to horror clichés, and adds nothing new. Touted with holding “The Most Shocking Ending in Horror Movie History,” Roth once again built his film on false hopes, flat out lies, and promises of blood soaked walls that were hardly ever met.
Possibly the best aspect of “Hostel Part II” is the fantastic score composed by Nathan Barr who helps bring together tension and mounting suspense that helps the film rise above the other titles in the modern era comprised of modern pop rock. Roth doesn’t settle on a hip soundtrack and instead pushes for a classic score that works in favor of the film. Meanwhile, Richard Burgi provides many laughs as the charismatic sadistic millionaire who invests much of his own personal wealth to be able to incorporate himself in the torture games and gets off on the possibility of inflicting pain on his prized tourists. “Hostel Part II” does not have the most shocking ending in horror movie history. Instead, what it does have is the advantage of being more of the same. Roth touts clunky horror movie references and cameos by the bunch and never quite explores our characters enough to care about them.
The only really compelling scene in the film involving a scythe and a slashed throat is undermined by Roth’s inability to create truly unique and complex characters on-screen, depending solely on typical clichés and character models that never leap off the screen. All the while, Roth brings down the cloak from his once interesting plot device, delving as far as possible into this mysterious organization of business men who pay to torture tourists, and really sucks away any and all mystique. All the while Roth sets up predictable plot twist after plot twist, all with the same old tired formula of the first. Three inept tourists, one with their sexuality in doubt, go to Eastern Europe to party, they’re led off into different parts of the village, people begin disappearing, and the body count begins to rise within the Hostel. It’s just so difficult to sympathize with characters so lacking in intelligence, even with Roth’s surviving character from “Hostel” also lacking the clear intelligence to know that snooping on a secret organization will get you murdered.
Roth aims for style over substance, and at the same time attempts to obtain sympathy for the characters on-screen with very little success. Matarazzo is once again the inept geek, Phillips is once again the skanky booze whore, and Laura German is a character set up with obvious foreshadowing upon her introduction that will reflect in the climax. All the while, Roth taps from wells like “Last House on the Left,” and “I Spit on Your Grave” staging whole scenes that were pretty much lifted from said scripts, and never reflect the attempts at wit and tongue in cheek as Roth would hope. Attach all the subtext to it that you’d like, but Roth’s film is clearly just a vain attempt to pull his story in all directions dancing from Drama, to horror, to thriller in every instance, without ever rising above the level of an average Direct to DVD shelf warmer.
In the end, the most shocking aspect of “Hostel 2” is that Roth is still able to garner work after three rather forgettable and terrible films under his belt. Roth is the Kid Rock of the film world; lacking in any talent and originality, which he hides by constantly in the arms of a superior filmmaker, hoping no one will notice that he’ll leave behind a legacy of nothing but mediocrity. “Hostel Part II” is the indicator that Roth is a lazy filmmaker, one incapable of really thinking outside the box in terms of characterization of substance, and in spite of the little highlights, this sequel is incredibly underwhelming. The great DVD treatment will be a real highlight for Roth fans with deleted scenes, a director commentary from Roth, and an assortment of making of documentaries, while Laura German is also a strong actor, but “Hostel Part II” is just a sub-par and obscenely overrated piece of lazy horror filmmaking.