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The death factory
Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hostel Part II (Unseen Edition, DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hostel Part II (Unseen Edition, DVD)
Advantages: Great special effects, a couple of twists in the tale
Disadvantages: Some will find it pointless and gory, acting of differing levels
Three American girls, Beth, Lorna and Whitney are travelling across Europe and meet a beautiful artist's model, who advises them to go to a hostel in Slovakia where they can enjoy spa treatments. Intrigued, they set off, delighted to find that the model has decided to join them. All goes well at first; the hostel and surroundings are beautiful and even Lorna, who is shy and geeky, finds herself a man. But then Lorna disappears. Concerned, Beth tries to find her, but is persuaded by the others that Lorna is probably having the time of her life. Then Whitney disappears and Beth is chased by two very dangerous looking men. Before she knows it, she is fighting for her life at the hands of men who have paid to see her die. Will she and her friends live to return to the US?
The acting is seriously not the most important part of this movie; it is very much the gore and the atmosphere that hold it all together. This is probably just as well, because the acting is not always first class. Lauren German, who plays the incredibly dull Beth, is convincing enough, but it is hard to feel all that much for her because she just isn't very exciting. The same mistake was made in the first Hostel, where one of the more boring characters is chosen to be the main one. I much preferred Heather Matarazzo, who I recognised from The Princess Diaries - as Lorna, she is awkward, shy and innocent and somehow much more likeable than either Beth or Whitney. Bijou Phillips who plays Whitney is just annoying - a pretty, rich American girl who thinks she can do as she likes. Phillips gives an adequate enough performance, but she is hardly stretched.
No-one else really made much of an impact; simply because there are so many characters and their time on screen is limited. I recognised Richard Burgi, one of the 'clients', from Desperate Housewives - he does show promise, with a really evil glint in his eye and a manic laugh, but the character fades out towards the end. Roger Bart, another client, initially seems dull and pointless, but is worth watching out for towards the end. The rest are just a mish mash of faces, some from the original Hostel, all of whom add to the story in their way, but don't really make a huge impression.
Sequels are rarely as well received as the original films. The first Hostel was designed to shock and it did, although I was slightly underwhelmed, just because I didn't really connect with the story. I didn't particularly want to watch torture porn, which is just as well, as I don't consider it to be torture porn...there was sex in the first half and torture in the second, but neither were ever combined. In Hostel II, however, there is much less emphasis on straight sex, but the torture scenes definitely have more of a sexual element to them. So, if 'torture porn' is your thing, you may well be more impressed with the sequel.
I don't particularly like the sexual element to Hostel II; believe me, there is little that is titillating about watching some poor girl bleed to death while a naked woman bathes in her blood. However, I do actually prefer this film to the first. Not because it is original, because it isn't really - it does largely follow the story of the first film, so there is nothing that is really surprising about what happens, despite the odd twist. However, I thought the plot was better; in the first film, the reason for the killings isn't explained, but in this one, everything makes that little bit more sense and I enjoyed it more. Don't get me wrong, there is still a great need to suspend disbelief, but I thought everything came together to work that little bit better.
The special effects are superb. Really superb. There are some quite hideous shots - a girl is hung upside down and exsanguinated; a young man's leg muscles and skin are carved off bit by bit and eaten; Whitney takes a bite out of a client's face and Beth chops off a man's willy. All look incredibly realistic and made me flinch. The best parts of the film involve less blood though. Before the girl is exsanguinated, her torturer runs a hideous looking knife all over her body - the sound of it and the way that the girl's skin stretches is truly creepy. And there is a dance party to which all the girls go to - this is partly light-hearted, but there are also some strange characters hanging around which makes it obvious that the gore is about to start and I thought was very well done.
There is little about this film that is attractive to watch. There are some lovely shots of city views, but the first film was definitely visually more pleasant - unless you enjoy shots of torture chambers of course. However, I noticed the music much more in this film. Much of it is classical, with a little traditional Eastern European music thrown in for good measure, and I felt that its beauty somehow managed to match the ugliness on screen in a very interesting way.
There are a number of special features with the DVD - way too many in fact. There are three sets of commentaries with people like Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth, which I didn't listen too - having watched the four featurettes on various aspects of film making, I didn't think I needed to. A couple of the featurettes were worth watching - I particularly enjoyed the one on special effects, but much of the time, Eli Roth is making inane comments about unimportant things, and the screen time is wasted. On top of that, there's a radio interview with Eli Roth going over much the same ground. Then there's a slew of deleted scenes which, funnily enough, were deleted because they weren't necessary. Finally there's a gag reel, which isn't really that funny, and trailers for other films, such as Vacancy.
I did enjoy this film, if enjoy is the right word. However, I appreciate that it isn't going to be for everyone; it seems that even those who liked the first film didn't necessarily like its sequel. I think it is a mistake to watch the film expecting it to be something different, because it really isn't. However, if you just want to watch a relatively well-made horror film, then you might just enjoy it like I did. Just keep expectations at a reasonable level. And don't forget that there is a rating of 18 on the film - most definitely not for the kiddies. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 93 minutes
Summary: I liked it, although many didn't