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Eli Roth
Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd
Writing Credits:
Eli Roth

Presented by genre master Quentin Tarantino and directed by Eli Roth, Hostel Part II is the shocking and gruesome sequel of the underground torture ring where rich businessmen pay to torture and murder their victims. The second installment to this terrifying franchise centers around three young American women, Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips), and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), who are studying in Rome. They are lured into a hostel by a beautiful young woman who sells them in as the next victims of a murder-for-profit business.

Box Office:
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.203 million on 2350 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.544 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 10/23/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Eli Roth, Executive Producer Quentin Tarantino, and Associate Producer Gabriel Roth
• Audio Commentary with Director Eli Roth and Actors Lauren German, Vera Jordanova and Richard Burgi
• Audio Commentary with Director Eli Roth
• “Hostel Part II: The Next Level” Featurette
• “The Art of KNB Effects” Featurette
• “Production Design” Featurette
• “Hostel Part II: A Legacy of Torture” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Treatment” Radio Interview with Eli Roth
• “Blood & Guts” Gag Reel
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Hostel: Part II (Unrated Director's Cut) (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 25, 2007)

Here’s a legitimate question: since I pretty actively disliked 2006’s Hostel, why did I take a look at its sequel, 2007’s Hostel Part II? Idle curiosity, I suppose, and a desire to see if perhaps the sequel might improve upon the original. I do find that this occasionally happens. I’ve seen a few decent sequels to not-so-hot originals, so I thought Part II might fall into that category.

For the sequel, we get a quick prologue that tells us what happened to Paxton (Jay Hernandez), the main character from the first flick. From there we meet two American college girls in Italy: Beth (Lauren German) and Whitney (Bijou Phillips). They plan a trek to Prague and nerdy Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) invites herself along as well. They also encounter Axelle (Vera Jordanova), an Italian figure model who seems awfully interested in Beth and heads to Prague as well.

Axelle tells the girls of the hot springs in Slovakia and convinces them that it’s a much better destination than Prague. When they get there they end up at – gasp! – a hostel! All seems wonderful at first, but eventually things turn sour and…

Well, if you saw the first flick, you have an inkling how that sentence should end. Don’t expect Part II to act as a simple remake of the original movie, though, as it goes off onto different tangents. The main variation comes from a secondary focus on two Americans named Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart). They’re bidders who come to Europe to torture and kill the women they “won”. We follow their side of events as well as what happens to the female protagonists.

Sort of, at least. The focus on the business side of things and the folks who do the killing makes Part II interesting, but the film doesn’t dig into that side of things as well as I’d like. Really, those elements almost act as a tease. We get enough of them to be intriguing but not enough to flesh out those topics.

Part II could use more of those moments to avoid being a basic remake of the first film. I will give the sequel credit for the fact that it doesn’t just rehash its predecessor. It would’ve been easy to just redo the original with female leads and go from there, but Part II attempts something a little different.

Director Eli Roth knows that the audience saw the first flick so he plays with expectations. He peppers the movie with subtle references to Hostel and makes it obvious that he knows we know what happened there. The filmmaking doesn’t quite become self-referential, but it shows self-awareness, and I like the fact that Roth tries to keep things fresh. He realizes that he can’t do a Psycho-style tone shift because the audience already knows about the torture chambers, so he spices things up with different perspectives.

To a degree, at least. The best parts of Part II come from the ways Roth toys with audience expectations as well as the glimpses of the business side of things. Most of these come in the first half of the film, and that makes the second half less satisfying. After some satisfying setup, Roth goes back to business as usual for most of the second half, and that comes as a disappointment. While I don’t think the movie’s first 45 minutes or so really excel, they at least create some intriguing possibilities.

Those largely go down the toilet in the second half. The storytelling drags since Roth doesn’t maintain good focus. For instance, we lose the American bidders for extended periods of time, and the movie doesn’t integrate the elements well. Again, the first half of the flick does this better. It intercuts among the elements in a smooth manner and meshes them smoothly.

Unfortunately, in the final half, the flick becomes less concise and it tends to meander. I get the feeling that Roth just feels like he needs to move to the money shots – ie, the graphic violence that fans of this stuff want. And those fans should feel pleased that Part II delivers the graphic goods. Indeed, the sequel is nastier and more disgusting than its predecessor. For good of for ill, there’s some genuinely horrific and gross material on display.

I could bitch and moan about this, and I do admit that I don’t care for this footage and don’t get its appeal. However, to complain about this would be like knocking Howard Stern for talking about lesbians. If you don’t like it, avoid it. At this point it makes no sense for me to criticize this kind of flick for what it is.

And Part II gleefully embraces its genre. The film makes no pretensions and doesn’t attempt to dumb itself down for mass consumption. I gotta admit I admire Roth for that. Since Hostel did pretty well at the box office, Roth easily could’ve succumbed to probable pressure to make the sequel a “PG-13”-friendly piece of “family horror” more likely to earn the big bucks. Roth stuck to his guns, which may not have been a great financial choice – indeed, Part II tanked at the box office – but it showed that for better or for worse, he made the movie he wanted to make.

Ultimately, I can’t say that I liked Hostel Part II. As was the case with the first flick, the sequel boasted an intriguing concept but came without much else of merit. The graphic violence that appeals to some will turn off many others. I respect the fact that the film stays true to itself and its audience, but I think it follows the standard “torture porn” template too much of the time and doesn’t challenge the genre enough.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

Hostel Part II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the original movie offered a spotty transfer, this one seemed more satisfying.

For the most part, sharpness appeared good. A few shots looked just a bit soft, but those instances didn’t crop up with any frequency. Most of the film seemed accurate and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I noticed only a little edge enhancement. As for source flaws, unlike the first movie, this transfer looked clean and fresh. I noticed no defects of even a minor sort.

I didn’t expect a lively palette from a dark horror film, and Part II usually left us with subdued tones. The movie adopted a gray sensibility much of the time. Brighter hues appeared during the first act and they looked fine; just don’t expect much after that. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows showed good clarity and delineation most of the time. Actually, the early Paxton sequences seemed somewhat thick, but after that low-light shots were fine. Overall, the visuals satisfied.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hostel Part II strongly echoed what I heard for the first movie. That was a good thing, though, as I thought both flicks provided solid audio. Much of the mix stayed with general ambience, but it kicked into gear when required. The atmosphere helped set the creepy mood and establish tension. When the action hit, the various speakers worked to put the viewer in the middle of events and did so well. Lots of scary noises like power saws and screams emanated from all around to help make things involving.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was consistently accurate and concise, with no edginess on display. Music sounded clean and clear, though I thought the score and songs could have boasted more prominent low-end. Effects offered the right mix of definition and punch. They showed nice bass and represented the various elements well. This track worked nicely for the movie.

As with the original Hostel, the sequel packs in many supplements. It comes with three separate audio commentaries. For the first, we hear from director Eli Roth, executive producer Quentin Tarantino, and associate producer Gabriel Roth. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss the story’s origins and development, cast and crew, sets and locations, inspirations and influences, cinematography and technical elements, how the Grindhouse flicks affected the production, and a mix of other notes.

Roth and Tarantino may be the chattiest directors in Hollywood, so a commentary with the pair together leaves virtually no downtime. Along with brother Gabriel, the three guys present a pretty interesting look at the film. It comes with a moderate amount of the usual happy talk, but it also includes quite a few good insights and thoughts about the production. Though it doesn’t present the deepest view of the flick, it proves enjoyable and informative.

One surprise cropped up in this track when the participants discuss a scene in which a guy’s dick gets removed. Tarantino mentions an obscure film that showed this kind of scene, and Eli Roth displays ignorance of that flick or any other with similar imagery. I’m shocked that with all that film geek knowledge they didn’t remember the shot from Caligula. In fact, when I saw the dismemberment here, I thought it was meant as a wink toward Caligula, but apparently that wasn’t the case – unless Roth just doesn’t want to admit that he borrowed from that “classic”. It seems odd to me that two movie fans who can babble about scads of obscure foreign flicks never saw Caligula.

Oh, and one minor gripe about the back patting in this commentary. Eli Roth seems to think he handled the topic of Beth’s wealth in a subtle manner, as he mentions the low-key ways the movie presents this subject. However, he ignores the one major exposition sequence in which we learn very explicitly how much money she has and why she has it. Roth doesn’t present this info in a sly manner at all, so it’s weird to hear him discuss it as though he did.

Next we get a track from Eli Roth and actors Lauren German, Vera Jordanova and Richard Burgi. All four sit together for their own running, screen-specific discussion, though Burgi doesn't join them until about 30 minutes into the piece. We learn how the actors got their parts and why they wanted to work on the project, character and performance issues, various location notes, and general production anecdotes.

Until Burgi arrives, the commentary is a dud. We get little more than Roth’s praise for the actors and generally happy talk about the shoot. Once Burgi gets there, the information level stays pretty limited, but at least the track becomes more fun. Burgi contributes a lively personality to the proceedings and prompts plenty of amusing stories. This means the commentary lacks much information value but entertains much of the time.

Finally, we locate a commentary from director Eli Roth all on his own for another running, screen-specific chat. He tells us about the impact of Hostel’s success and his decision to make the sequel, the film’s political undercurrents, cast and performances, characters and story subjects, sets and locations, music, cinematography and effects, influences, and a mix of other scene-specific details.

As was the case for the commentaries on the first Hostel, Roth’s solo track proves the most satisfying of the bunch. He digs into a ream of useful subjects and does so with good specificity. Of course, some elements repeat from the prior tracks, but most of the info is new to us. This is a solid discussion of the film.

After this we get a collection of four featurettes. Hostel Part II: The Next Level runs 26 minutes, 26 seconds as it takes us onto the shoot. We follow the participants through location scouts and other aspects of the production. I like this sort of “fly on the wall” material, though “Level” goes a little too heavy on comedy for my liking. It still gives us a good look at some production elements, but it tends to take more of a joking tone than I’d like.

For the six-minute The Art of KNB Effects, we find notes from Roth, effects design supervisor Gregory Nicotero, makeup effects artist Kevin Wasner, and on set supervisor Michael McCarty. It looks at many of the practical effects used in the film. It’s gross but informative.

Production Design lasts six minutes, 42 seconds and includes Roth, associate producer Eythor Gudjonsson, actor Bijou Phillips and production designer Robb Wilson King. We get a look at set design and some other visual elements for the film. The show offers a brief but effective take on its subjects.

Finally, Hostel Part II: A Legacy of Torture goes for 23 minutes, 43 seconds and features Roth, Phillips, psychoanalyst Dr. Sheldon Roth, artist Cora Roth, Museum of Medieval Criminology director Aldo Migliorini, Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato, and actor Edwige Fenech. “Legacy” looks at historical antecedents to the forms of torture we find in the film, and it also tells us a little about some of the flick’s cameos. The first portion works best, as it gives us an unsettling glimpse at various torture implements. The other aspects are okay but not as intriguing.

10 Deleted Scenes last a total of 12 minutes, 36 seconds. We find “The Trash Man” (0:58), “Whitney’s Sketch” (0:49), “Whitney’s Rant” (1:12), “The Plants” (1:04), “The Van” (1:37), “Rape Shower” (1:29), “The Tool Check-Out Room” (1:12), “The Changing Room” (1:14), “’This Is It’” (1:09) and “Nozdrovia” (1:52). Each one comes with text from Roth to set up what we’ll see and let us know why he cut the material.

Do any of the clips offer anything particularly interesting? Not for the most part, though a few are pretty good. “Shower” is amusing, and some minor character notes develop. I think “Nozdrovia” should’ve stayed in the final cut since it adds a layer to the finale.

An audio feature comes next with a radio interview. In this conversation on “The Treatment”, Roth chats with critic Elvis Mitchell about the movie’s themes and subtext as well as working with Tarantino. The parts about Part II tend to repeat what we hear elsewhere. The elements connected to Grindhouse are more interesting and amusing; they represent the most significant new aspects discovered here.

A Blood & Guts Gag Reel lasts three minutes, 28 seconds. A lot of it is the standard silliness, though some graphic gore makes its way into the clip as well. I can’t say it does anything for me.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Blu-Ray discs, 30 Days of Night, Boogeyman 2, and Rise: Blood Hunter. These also appear in the Previews area along with clips for Resident Evil: Extinction, Kaw, Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud, and Fearnet.com. No trailer for Hostel Part II appears here.

If you saw Hostel and liked it, should you expect to enjoy Hostel Part II? Probably, as the movie delivers the gore you expect while it manages to avoid a simple remake of the original. If you saw Hostel and loathed it, will Part II change your mind? Nope. I think it throws out a few interesting twists but not enough to make it genuinely effective, and the extreme violence will continue to disgust most viewers.

As for the DVD, it offers solid picture and audio along with a very good collection of extras. If you’re a fan of this sort of flick, this DVD is a worthwhile purchase. Others should avoid it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.9333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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