Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: Hostel II

As I stand here on the podium to review Eli Roth's third experiment into celluloid and fear, I feel as though my head is on a chopping block: With different mediums giving almost up-to-date information pertaining to a certain film (in this case Hostel II), it can sometimes wither the observer: is there anything new to add to an already assuming crowd? This comment, however, is naive , for certainly there are many whose affiliation with a new release is haphazard at best - and it is this audience for whom reviews should be scribed.

Considering the immediate ejection of making the sequel following the first, I think many assumed a rushed, forceful (and perhaps even bland) follow up would ensue. But Hostel II is anything but; the casual way that Eli let's us in is a smooth trajectory and relaxed. Although I don't know for sure, I'd bet my dog and lot a sequel wasn't even cogitated before writing the first, so Eli is to be commended for this blending of the two as if he knew all along subconsciously where it was going. Surprisingly, elements of the first film are given treatment and an epilogue - ushering the viewer into a movie that is as harrowing and repugnant as any to come to life.

With the back-drop of Rome to inspire them two female artists and one tag-along geek (Heather Matharazzo from Welcome to the Dollhouse), become slowly seduced by a gorgeous fellow female student and the culture to eventually become residents of the Hostel. How each of them are charmed is unique to their individuality , slowly they are separated from one another by mysterious (but at the same time obvious) minions for the Hostel and their owner - a kind of hackneyed European personality that is surprisingly transparent throughout the film. As an accompanying plot-strand, two successful American businessmen have traveled en-route to secure their illustrious prize; one is bull-headed and ready to go; the other is squeamish and unnerved by what lies ahead - but not all is as it seems and Eli pulls out some plot-twists and turns that even the most cognitive might find hard to pick.

For lovers of psychological horror, this film is not for you: the scenes of debauchery border on the obscene - and I suspect that if the first movie wasn't successful, Hostel II would have had a hard time finding a distributor. An avid horror fan would think sequences like this would be cheesy on paper considering what they entail; however, they are not. Eli has made what might normally be laughable tid-bits into a womb of thought that is the real deal. As an aficionado for over half my life-span, there were definitely moments I ruminated on the legitimacy of a genre we all know and love when it is taken to such macabre extremes. However, this genus of film runs in my veins , so to speak - and I personally walked away pleased and happy with the results

For those interested in the mythology of the Hostel, the background is delved into a little further. The editing and direction are superb - as is the lavishness of the outlandish sets , and the unfamiliarity of Europe for those of us in Australia gives this film some credence. Things can happen in such an exotic and far-flung environment - and that's what scares me the most.

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