Hostel Part II (2007)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips

Rating: ★★

Hostel Part II is the second instalment of a not so successful franchise by writer and director Eli Roth. His first and original, Hostel (2005), caused headlines to name It one of the most shocking American films made in the last ten years, with a mixture of extreme gore, violence and sex. Hostel’s sequel similarly follows the same trend, bringing again the gore, sex and violence but investing in a deeper story which replaces the shock previously created. It maybe horror to watch due to the nature of the film but at times the horror comes at the hands of a sloppy and poorly made film.

The story follows a group of three girls as they side-track from a trip to Rome, Beth (Lauren German) the “sensible” character and lead protagonist, who also has a bucket load of money and her friends, Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) the typical shy reserved girl whilst Whitney (Bijou Phillips), the third companion, is the typical whorish slut. As they are distracted by a young Slovakian Model telling them to travel to the outskirts of Bratislava for a spa weekend, they encounter the corrupt town and hostel which saw mass death and torture in the previous film. Unaware the girls are soon brought by three wealthy businessmen and woman waiting to taste their blood.

Hostel II attempts to give us a bigger picture, bigger than what we saw in the first instalment. We seem to have an insight into the way the “elite hunting” organisation is run, with a look into people bidding and those behind the murders. Although it is new and innovated by Roth, it does seem to be that we start to identify with the antagonists and follow their story too much, neglecting our victims. The shock is removed, after watching Hostel we now suspect everyone in the town and we just wait for the killing to start, however it takes a long time with the action only starting after the half-way point. The gore however is a lot more shocking, but less frequent, a way to beat the prequel for Roth seems to be, shoot a kid, chop of a man’s nob and play football with a head.

The effects are good, however we suspect it’s all fake and it just doesn’t have the same “I can’t look” factor, but instead a more comedic over the top element which for me resembled Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Hostel II again unlike the prequel doesn’t seem to be as clever, the directing isn’t as sharp and the cuts between shots which stood out in Hostel seem to be non-existent. A good aspect though, one of the very few, seems to be the sound effects which at times is the only thing which has a scare factor.

There isn’t too much to shout about with this film, everything is average. The acting for me is very average with most of the screen time being filled up with the three girls screaming and being incredibly whiney until a really dramatic change of character in the final scenes, which of course was realistic. The story seems poorly written, its ending seems laughable as it looks like Eli Roth wanted a really quick way to end the situation and move things on. Whilst the opening sequence which follows on from Hostel, is somewhat only there to stop the audience asking questions but essentially it makes the journey of Hostel look pointless, with Eli Roth somewhat shooting himself in the foot as he imagines the potential money he can make.

There is no surprise that Hostel III went to straight to a DVD release after the second instalment of the franchise showed no promising signs at all. Hostel II doesn’t have the same effect as Hostel and tries too hard to change, which essentially ruins its concept, whilst everything is average there is the standout of some gore and sound effects but that’s all. It is most likely a better comedy than a horror which is barely entertaining to watch, with this more than typical film being waste of time and for the most part the torture is afflicted upon the audience who has to watch such a mess unfold.

 

 

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Hidden References in Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005)

Eli Roth wanted to make a big claim to the cinematic community with his 2005 release of Hostel; he wanted to make it known that he is an expert of his genre, a well-knowledge film-maker and an admirer of the all time classics. Hostel very much entertained the typical zeitgeist audience when released with its mass gore and special effects, but for the cineastes and genre fans he played homage to many films and included references to others keeping them occupied and a part of an “in-joke”.

The master that is Quentin Tarantino presented and produced Hostel and his name appearing on the opening credits wasn’t his only involvement within the film. As the three backpackers check into their new Slovak hostel in the background Samuel L Jackson’s iconic speech from Pulp Fiction is being played on the TV. It is also suggested how our antagonists stalked the halls of the slaughter house whistling could be a link to Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Eli Roth also referenced the Kubrick and horror classic, The Shining. The boys are given room 237 which is the same hotel room which is forbidden in The Shining, something which is obviously not a coincidence. Alongside one classic is another as the film uses the same score from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The closing credits to Hostel plays homage to the opening credits of Psycho using the same style score but slightly giving it a modern twist.

Wanting to state his knowledge and ability to recognise his background, Roth referenced two very small but classic British horror films. The sex scene between Josh and the Slovak roommate is a direct link to the sex scene within The Wicker Man 1973 as our priest gets seduced through a wall by a form of witchcraft. It is referenced by the iconic music played over the top. Film of the same year, Don’t Look Now 1973 is also referenced clearly, the final scene in Don’t Look Now sees our protagonist chase a figure in a red coat, in Hostel Josh and Paxton looking for Oli start to chase a guy wearing the same Orange coat, the two scenes follow the same structure and even have similar settings.

Eli Roth also chooses to have many cameo’s including himself. In a bar scene at the beginning of Hostel, Eli Roth can be seen smoking and smashing a bong whilst laughing. Japanese director Takashi Miike also plays a role as the guy who Paxton asks “what’s it in like in there” too as he stands outside the unknown slaughter house. Extending his knowledge to that of Japanese Film finally the last reference is that to Suicide Club. The end scene which sees a Japanese woman jump in front of a train is a clear homage especially to shots where we see fellow passengers sprayed with blood, it is also the only reason Roth made that very character Japanese.

Did you spot any of these references?

Hostel (2005)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

Rating: ★★★

Eli Roth’s Hostel became a mass talking point and a somewhat cinema sensation when it was first released becoming a real zeitgeist, it was even claimed to be “the scariest and most horrifying film ever made” making way for a new genre of horror labelled “torture porn”.  Hostel is simply a gore-fest and one which is filled with screams, blood, teeth, guts and even eye-balls. Visually disturbing it becomes a great horror with a somewhat average concept and acting as the man behind Cabin Fever does create a film which has a lasting effect.

Three young American backpackers Paxton, Josh, Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson ) decide to travel to Amsterdam for a week of nothing more than sex, however when they arrive they realise how there’s more tourists than locals and no one is interested. After missing curfew and being locked outside their youth hostel a man invites them into his house where he explains and tells the story of a hostel in Slovakia where the woman are wild and have taste for American men.  Intrigued and hooked the group travel to Eastern Europe however they find to their horror that the described hostel is actually “to die for” when they see through a group who exhibit torture to a community, which pays to kill and slaughter.

Hostel has a simple concept, one which is seen throughout horror, a group of teenagers become isolated in a location they’re not familiar with and then encounter uncontrollable danger.  Eli Roth’s version works very well and in a sense is realistic. There is no real complexity but some scenes can be really tense but the main feature throughout is obviously the gore and the huge amounts of blood. Once the first act of the film is over, which consists of nothing more than perverted scenes and nudity, the action begins to unravel. We see torture although many of the killings are of screen; Roth sets the tone with a gruesome moment as someone gets both Achilles tendons cut and attempts to escape with their hills splitting apart. Aside from a few minor follow ups including someone labelled as “Edward Saladhands” everything is rather out of the blue and attempts to heighten as much brutality as possible.

Acting isn’t something Hostel attempts to thrive in; therefore it is only average despite some of the painful screams sounding and looking realistic and overall the main cast being fun and believable. What Hostel does attempt to thrive in and succeed in however, is their special effects and make-up.  Over 150 gallons of blood were used in the making of the film and that in itself describes just how much gore it contains. It was also reported that “the eyeball scene” make-up took more than three hours to apply. The make-up and effects are good as they do make you want to cringe slightly but being very overpowering and over the top it does take elements away from realism and subtlety.

Hostel is nothing more than a film that wants to create as much gore and brutality as possible with no other aspect being a highlight. The first viewing is horrific with scenes which do make you want to turn away but upon multiple viewings it really has no effect and becomes a very boring film. The first act of Hostel too is very droning and seems to drag with action and the main plot only really starting to take shape around the half-way point. It also seems to be filled with silly actions to heighten the gore, such as our main character choosing to turn back into danger and choose a hammer over a gun as a weapon. It is obvious that although horrifying it isn’t a classic which will last for ages due to the amount of flaws.

Eli Roth’s Hostel is a film which fulfils its proclaimed expectation, which is a gore filled hour and half with tonnes of blood, sex and violence.  It doesn’t have any special stand-out qualities other than the effects but nevertheless makes for a good watch upon your first ever viewing. With scenes that will stay in your mind long after the end credits, it is horrifying and a worth-while experience for horror fans.