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"Hostel 2" Hits Theaters with Mixed Reviews

Today is the day the long awaited sequel, "Hostel 2" by writer/director Eli Roth hits theaters. Huzzah! Trumpets sound!

Naturally, the first thing fans want to know is if this second installment holds up to the first. Well, according to the reviews, the response is right down the line. Folks generally seem to love it or hate it. There's not much middle ground out there.

However, I'll venture to be among the few who give this movie a solid "meh." I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. There were parts I liked and parts I thought were sub par for a Roth piece.

First off, yes, there's gore. Duh. I thought the first one had more gore, though - more of those "oh my god .... OWIE!" moments. This film will also undoubtedly fit into the increasingly controversial category of misogynistic films depicting serious, graphic violence against women that Joss Whedon railed against recently on Save a couple of notable scenes, "Hostel 2" directs most of its violence against the three leading ladies. There's one particularly gratuitous scene that brings to mind a certain European noblewoman and will likely be a key "torture porn" element for critics to point to. If not for the original film's slant towards male victims, Roth's films might permanently get slapped with such a label.

From the bits I read about the film beforehand, I was under the impression that this installment focused largely on the killers - the members of that secret society who pay to torture and kill hapless victims. Not so. Sure, attention is paid to these villains, but the audience spends most of the film learning about the three leading ladies and waiting for their inevitable abduction. In the first film, we didn't know what was to happen or when. That was part of the terribly uncomfortable tension. Here, it felt we were biding our time for much of the film.

There were also a couple of plot points that seemed to be so obvious they were all but flashing in bright neon. I won't say what those are because they would be terrible spoilers, but if you pay attention and actually listen to the dialog in addition to watching the gore, you'll see what I mean. It's really these glaring devices that make the film a bit disappointing.

In all honesty, I've come to expect (perhaps unfairly) innovative and industry changing things from Roth. (He had me at "Cabin Fever.") He's not just a horror writer/director, he's a horror fan. He knows the tricks and what drives genre devotees crazy. The presence of such obvious "twists" in this film makes one wonder if he succumbed to the pressures of churning out a blockbuster sequel and rushed through script problems he couldn't otherwise work out.

All that said, the film held its own. It's not as good as the first, but it certainly didn't derail the franchise as sequels are wont to do. I would have liked more time spent on the killers' perspectives since we already knew what was to happen on the victim side of things. I thought he balanced the heavy gore with some palpable tension and delivered a satisfying (if not somewhat predictable) ending. Fans of the first film will probably enjoy this installment, but they shouldn't expect it to be as mind blowing.

Is it worth the $10+ per ticket to see it? If you liked the original, then sure. If you're like me, you probably love seeing horror films in the theater. Witnessing the audience reactions is key to the "thrill" part of the experience. But, if you expect award winning or ground-breaking cinema before you plunk down your cash, then DVD is the way to go here.

The problem with innovating and setting standards in the movie biz is that fans always expect you to live up to them - and surpass them. Keeping my elevated expectations in mind, I still think we'll need to wait for his next project - the film adaptation Stephen King's "Cell" - before we get another glimpse of Roth's true horror genius. -- Shannon

Posted by Shannon on June 8, 2007 12:53 PM
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IT SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

-- Posted by: erika at June 9, 2007 9:57 PM

Hostel 2 wasn't great & wasn't bad...
just good. If you're a fan of the first
or horror in general it's worth a look.
Although i would save that look for DVD.
The visceral experience of the first is gone. As is the simplicity of the story, which made the first film so unique. Replacing the 3 male victims from the first guessed it, 3 young women. Which feels to me like every other horror/torture film out there. I would've liked more time spent with the men & women behind this torture ring. There is a very funny/creepy scene that involves many wealthy people bidding in an online "auction". To Eli Roth's credit, Hostel 2 deals with a more intricate story, more characters and dialogue.
A fan of Cabin Fever and the first Hostel, both were simple and clever, but no great work of writing. In Hostel 2 the story & characters are larger in scope and balanced well against the gore. Proving for now Roth isn't just lucky or a one trick pony.

-- Posted by: jalex at June 11, 2007 2:49 PM

@erika - did you like the first film?

@jalex - There is more balance in "Hostel 2," but I was surprised how often it felt like Roth was cutting away from the most gorific parts versus in "Cabin Fever" and the first "Hostel" where he was unflinching.

I'm anxious to see what he does with "Cell" since he's not writing that one.

-- Posted by: shannon at June 11, 2007 3:07 PM

i agree Shannon.I'm curious about "Cell" also. Roth is a good director, so it should be interesting to see what he does with a script by the writers of "Ed Wood", "Man on the Moon" and the soon to be released "1408". Which i'm anxious to see.

-- Posted by: jalex at June 11, 2007 3:28 PM

Great of the best sequels I've seen in a while...clearly overtakes part I. Hope part III will carry on the same.

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