Three American college students studying abroad are lured to a Slovakian hostel, and discover the grim reality behind it.
Eli Roth is widely known for writing and directing demented films heavily depicting violence and gore and thoroughly shocking viewers. With Hostel II, he has done it yet again, this time pushing the horror even farther, by taking a small portion away.
Beth (Lauren German), along with best friend Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and emotionally insecure Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) are three college girls headed to Rome for a summer of art study. Prague is also on their exploratory list. However, convinced by Axelle (Vera Jordanova), a beautiful and mysterious art class model, with the promise of excitement, security and maybe even romance, they decide to visit Slovakia’s secluded countryside instead.
However, what they don’t know and realize is that both the desk clerk, who snidely faxes a copy of their passports’ to the powers that be, and Axelle, who is even more closely affiliated, in charge of recruiting, have financial motives.
Those powers that be are the Elite Hunting Club, an exclusive group that works much like the way an English Fox Hunt does by utilizing a captured animal and releasing it for the chase. But, in this case, the victims are not animals, but people and they are definitely not set free for the chase. Just getting into the club requires an exuberant membership fee and once a person joins, before ever having the opportunity to bid on any potential victim and wickedly fulfill their heart’s darkest desires of torture and murder, members are required to obtain a tattoo of the club’s insignia, a bloodhound dog, forever marking them as a member. By the way, it was gratifying to see in this sequel, unlike Hostel I, the origin of how this place and concept all came to be.
Besides following the three women on a horrifying journey, this time, as a side tale, we get to follow two exceptionally wealthy American businessmen Todd and Stuart (Richard Burgi and Roger Bart), one of which is eagerly anticipating and relishing the opportunity and one who is simply going along with his cohort in order to imply manhood strength, but secretly quite sure he could never follow through. Incidentally, with the original, the torturing characters were mostly cliché and superficial. However, this time around, character depth is explored, becoming a welcomed addition.
Similar to the first version in premise only, this follow up sequel harbors an originality all it’s own, using woman instead of men and coincidently, making their characters much stronger than those in the original. For example, the Beth character is unlike the typical helpless scream queen we’ve come to see in so many other slasher flicks and the audience will probably find her appealing.
However, with due respect to all the actors, it is Lorna (the teenage courtroom victim in The Devil’s Advocate) that steals the show with an emotional performance that is sure to yank at viewers’ hearts as they lean toward pondering whether her actions border stupidity or simply emotional neediness. None-the-less, she plays the part well and has come a long way with her acting ability.
And, it’s rather obvious that Eli Roth, still a tremendous fan of the mythical snuff film industry, has learned a thing or two about character development / audience relationships. For this time he chose to incorporate the knowledge, doing the franchise justice.
Of course Hostel II still offers the bloody gore it is widely known for and once again forces audiences to cringe from time to time. But, the sequel has grown up a bit, tending to limit and shorten the torture scenes, instead choosing to tell the overall “big picture” tale. And for some diehard gore lovers, this may be detrimental. However, by adding defining characters to the storyline as well as maintaining that certain amount of gore, the film has more substance and is able to delve terrifyingly deeper.
And, by doing so it makes Hostel II much more shocking and chilling than its predecessor.