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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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.

Last House on the Left (1972)

Genre: Horror

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Starring: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess

Rating: ★★★★

Wes Craven’s first film was a real controversial release which saw it banned for almost 30 years within the UK, but Last House on the Left is now a cult classic and a piece of horror history which has since shaped the genre.  A somewhat sick but clever and inventive story alongside amateur directing and acting give this film a feel which only emphasises its outcome which is no less than horrific. Although some aspects are lost due to its old release date and technology, it is still very entertaining and a successful horror which even today would be a big hit.

The story follows two teenage girls Mari Collingwood and Phyllis who for Mari’s birthday are heading to a rock concert but stopping in the city to attempt to “score” some drugs the pair are kidnapped by a gang of prison runaways, gruesome killers and psychos led by Krug who’s wanted for the killing of two nuns and a priest. As they are flung into the back of a boot the gang drive them into a forest which looks onto Mari’s house, unknowingly her parents are in walking distance away from their daughter Mari who watches Phyllis get mentally tortured.  After Phyllis is brutally killed, Mari attempts to escape but it leads to her rape and death. As night approaches the gang clean up and look for a place to stay, unknowingly they come across Mari’s house and manage to stay the night but Mr and Mrs Collingwood become suspicious. Eventually finding their bloody clothes and their dead daughter in the opposing lake, the two set on a night of gruesome revenge which involves chainsaws and blown out brains.

The story is something that even with modern releases is still labelled and seen as “sick”, Wes Craven creating something truly horrific and gruesome.  However it is something that leaves you really intrigued and somewhat satisfied as you see the revenge comes about to the gang of killers. The idea of Mari’s parents being so close to the murders whilst also setting up a birthday surprise is something which adds to the horror. The only slightly annoying and flawed element to Craven’s plot is the inclusion of two comic relief cops who are truly hopeless, and in a way remove some of the tense atmosphere and terror away from the real events.

The acting is somewhat amateur alongside the direction however with a documentary type feel it puts us as an audience right in the front seat witnessing the brutal events first hand. More so how we connect more with the gang of psychotic killers leaves an unnerving after effect once viewed. Last House on the Left for a very low budget and old film is still creditable. The most stand-out element away from the story for me is the soundtrack and “theme song” which once properly heard is sickening as it explains the story of two girls getting raped and killed to some very happy carnival type music – “have some fun with these two lovely children and off them as soon as we’re done”

There is no surprise to why Last House on the Left got banned however it is a truly great classic horror which is probably one of the most gruesome films I’ve ever seen due to such a slightly disturbing story from Wes Craven.  Although a product of its time which effects how watchable it is, Last House on the Left deserves its “cult classic” status as it a bloody, gruesome horror which is entertaining for all the wrong reasons, one not to be enjoyed.