Welcome to the dullhouse
Hostel: Part II
Well, if nothing else, Eli Roth’s followup to the moderately interesting Hostel at least performs the meta-service of letting us know what really happened to angsty Dawn Weiner (Heather Matarazzo) when she growed up and got to get the hell out of Jersey … Dawn, meet Countess Bathory. Countess Bathory? Your bloodbath is waiting.
Since the big mystery that drove the first entry was opened already, this time around we get a look into the Slovakian torture factory that offers up stray tourist kids to the folks that have the money and the sicko minds to do whatever they want to the firm young flesh. Entering the belly of the beast this time around are three young women: good girl, party girl and their nerdy new friend. Bad things happen, following the established template of slim narrative serving as life support to the torture vignettes.
I actually preferred this one over the first one … and aside from the tent pole scene (the Bathory nod) it really wasn’t as graphic as I expected. Although after the aforementioned scene, I was almost ready to walk. Here Roth takes the whole “torture porn” pejorative to pervy li’l heart. Maybe it was because we were supposed to like a couple of the characters, as opposed to the first one where they were all sort of loathsome, which implied you were supposed to dig it when they “got theirs.” It sort of creeps me out when a filmmaker does that—just because I don’t like some mouthy dickhead doesn’t mean that I want to see his Achilles tendons snipped apart with bolt cutters.
But to give the man his due, he has started to tone down his hyper-caffeinated headspace, so what humor is displayed here is more understated and playfully dark. So instead of riffing like a frat guy loaded on Red Bull and Jäger, the film plays more as if it’s fueled by absinthe and Sprite. And this time around, the ending is definitely more solid. Sorta ballsy, even. Heh, heh.
Unfortunately, less mayhem means more talk, and the talk isn’t any more interesting than what you can overhear at a downtown bar on a Friday midnight. But dull characters and dull dialogue are at least compensated for with some cool Balkan atmospherics that recall the Eurotrash horror films of the ‘70s.
When Hostel was done, I was glad it was over. When Hostel: Part II was over, I almost liked it. A very, very small difference, but one nonetheless.