A quick recap for those who missed the first film: In Slovakia there is a youth hostel, secretly run by a group called Elite Hunters who sell the opportunity to torture and kill backpackers to the highest bidder. On this occasion, however, one of the victims managed to escape – albeit at the cost of some fingers and a good part of his sanity...

Hostel II picks up where Hostel left off as Paxton (Jay Hernandez), our survivor, recounts his tale to the Italian police – a device that allows for some re-use of stock footage and a cameo appearance from cult 1970s actor Luc Merenda, playing a police inspector. On hearing about the distinctive bloodhound tattoo which all those who have partaken of Elite Hunting’s services have the cop rolls up his sleeve, revealing the same mark, and proceeds to expertly gut Paxton...

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Of course, like Friday the 13th Part 2, it’s all a dream – Paxton is with his girlfriend, safe where the Elite Hunters will never be able to find him. Or so he thinks, as – off-camera, in one of the few instances where suspense is foregrounded over splatter – he is decapitated by an unidentified killer.

Following this, we’re introduced to three new victims. Beth (Lauren German) is the sensible one; Whitney (Bijou Phillips) the bad one, and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) the sweet/dorky one.

The Italian location also allows for another 1970s cameo appearance, from Edwige Fenech, and what looks to be a referencing of one of the few Sergio Martino horror-thrillers in which she didn’t appear, Torso.

Taking the train to Slovakia, the girls are surprised to see the model from their art class, Axelle (Vera Jordanova), about the only welcome sight on a train otherwise populated by predatory alpha males and weirdos; Euro-trash fans will here note that Aldo Lado, director of (Don’t Ride On) Late Night Trains is amongst those thanked in the end credits.

The girls get talking and decide to visit a spa with Axelle. Not surprisingly she is in league with Elite Hunters and can suggest a place to stay...

At this point the bidding on the three girls starts, allowing for some pointless use of split screen and, more importantly, the introduction of Todd (Richard Burgi), the American businessman who wins the auction for Beth and Whitney and then phones his initially more hesitant colleague Stuart (Roger Bart) to tell him the good news.

At a party Lorna, who had earlier indicated that she doesn’t drink, lets her hair down a bit and promptly goes off with one of the locals – a predictably fatal mistake as she is knocked unconscious and awakens to find herself suspended upside down, naked...

Not knowing what we know, Beth and Whitney continue on to the spa from which they are in turn soon abducted, winding up at the death factory where they encounter Stuart and Todd (another cult figure, Ruggero Deodato, crops up here).

Decently put together and showcasing some fine NBK splatter effects, the main problem with Hostel II is its utter pointlessness as the scenario piles improbability upon improbability in an attempt to introduce fresh twists to an already exhausted premise.

Mainstream audiences will likely find the gore and general attitude off-putting and not get the various in-jokes, while those who actually know who Deodato is and, even better, have seen the unexpurgated likes of House On The Edge Of The Park and Cannibal Holocaust will see Hostel II for the lightweight wannabe that it is.

Crucially this isn’t just because these are nastier films, able to go where Roth, constrained by the need to deliver an R-rated film and to avoid anything too controversial, cannot, but also because Deodato’s films, for all their faults – or perhaps even because of them – actually prove far more thought-provoking and confrontational experiences.

In the end, one comes to the conclusion that Roth, like his mentor Quentin Tarantino, is someone who is very good at talking the talk but can’t quite bring himself to walk the walk and himself make the kind of film his own are parasitic upon.

In this he’s ironically like one of the two businessmen, namely the one who proves less able to kill than he thinks.

But then as Audition showed, it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for...

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2007
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A bunch of annoying American students get tricked by stereotypical Eastern Europeans.
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Craig McFarlane **

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova, Roger Bart, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd

Year: 2007

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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