Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hostel: Part II

I had the "privilege" of seeing an advanced copy of Hostel II. If you haven't seen the first movie, don't worry. Chances are you already know what it was about, and it's summed up rather well in the first five minutes anyway. As for Hostel II, I can only assume that it's a rehashing of Hostel I, just with different characters.

The movie follows Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips), and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), three students studying abroad in Slovakia. They embody three stereotypical personalities: Beth is of course the required responsible hero, Whitney is the depraved sex fiend, and Lorna is the naive emotional basket-case. All three of them are equally obnoxious.

As most of you probably know, the meat of the movie is about a hostel that is actually a front for a bizarre club of wealthy people who kill others for sport. The proprietors of the hostel lure backpackers in, and people pay large sums of money to torture them. When the first movie came out, this was shocking, and terrifying. By now it's been done, and the concept doesn't have the same shock value. Instead of simply trying to surprise the audience, Eli Roth takes another approach.

Hostel II was not nearly as gruesome as the first one- which is a damn good thing. I had trouble watching much of the first installment. This time he took a twist and followed some of the people on the other end- the ones paying for the service. Stuart (Roger Bart) and Todd (Richard Burgi) are two businessmen who are partaking in the "activities". One has done it before, and the other is a reluctant participant (though he's more hesitant about getting the required tattoo, than killing anyone). It was interesting to see him wrestle with his moral objections (despite how absurd the situation is).

Despite not being as intense as the first one, there are still some significantly flinch worthy scenes here. Not for the weak stomached. There was one fantastic scene, however, which featured people bidding on the three main characters from all over the world. This was a genuinely interesting commentary not only on the power of money, but also of the globalism of today's economy. The movie wasn't as bad as I had been anticipating. I still wish that Roth had just gone ahead and made the full movie out his Grindhouse trailer, "Thanksgiving". I've never been much a fan of Roth, but I might be starting to turn around on him.


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