June 14, 2007

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Hostel: Part II (R)
Another group of Americans decide that the words “relaxing spa” and “Slovakia” somehow make sense together and wind up in bloody pieces inside a warehouse in Hostel: Part II, a movie presenting a whole new bunch of disgusting ways to kill somebody.

Exsanguination, death by dogs, decapitation, saw to the cranium — OK, maybe we did see some of these in the first movie but, hey, decapitation is the gold standard of horror movie deaths.

Part II starts off by tying up some loose ends from the first movie and then taking us to Italy, where a new group of stupid young American tourists are bored with their European experience and decide, heck, why not go to a small town in Slovakia as the flirtatious nude model (Vera Jordanova) suggests? Thusly, the rich and suspicious Beth (Lauren German), the sheltered Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) and the slutty Whitney (Bijou Phillips) end up in the very same hostel that spelled doom for the group from the first movie.

The movie takes a rather long time to get to the actual killing, in part because we take some time out to meet a few of the would-be murderers. Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart) — both actors played extremely tertiary, rather slimy characters on Desperate Housewives; Susan’s ex-husband and Bree’s murdering pharmacist fiancé, respectively — have decided to have a guys weekend in Slovakia, taking advantage of a high-end hotel offering massages, hookers and, eventually, the chance to kill someone. Stuart has picked Beth — in part, we later learn, because she looks like the wife he clearly is not so fond of — and even makes the extra creepy move of getting a close look at her while she’s still alive and running free.

I suppose some people could see it as a bit of a spoiler (so, you know, SPOILER ALERT) but the path to the movie’s bloody end is never exactly straight in an Eli Roth movie. After we get to watch a couple of characters bite it, the movie gives the remaining prey a chance to fight back a little. The best part of Hostel and the best part of this sequel is that final quarter when Eli Roth lets his sick sense of humor take an even bigger role and gives the remaining protagonists a chance to fight back.

I will say that, for its blood-soaked, ax-hacked genre, Hostel: Part II isn’t the absolute worst movie I’ve seen. I disliked the third Saw more than this movie. Most of your January-through-March horror releases were not only boring but forgettable, a criticism you can’t make of this movie. Even if this isn’t your bag, movie-wise, Eli Roth does dare you not to laugh at some of the goofier characters and their idiotic behavior. And he goads you into giving at least a small cheer when the characters get to give one back to their tormentors.

I won’t be adding this to my DVD collection and I’m not putting Hostel Part III on my sequel wish list but if you absolutely must see a severed artery and some nudity (including — let’s hear it for equality — a little frontal male nudity this time, one shot David-esque and one deeply disturbing) this isn’t the worst way to come by it. C-

Rated R for all the reasons you’d suspect including sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language and some drug content. Written and directed by Eli Roth, Hostel: Part II is an hour and 33 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Lionsgate.