Hostel: Part II (DVD)

The famously tempting Eastern European hostel — the one that’s too good to be true because, er, it is — is still going, still luring foreign youngsters in and still shipping them off to a shady cabal who sell the youngsters to psychopathic wealthy perverts for assorted gruesome tortures and grisly deaths.

Hostel IIThis time around, the main focus is on three girls: rich girl Beth (German); sparky, slightly slutty Whitney (Phillips); and nerd-with-a-heart-of-gold Lorna (Matarazzo). They leave Rome for the promises of Eastern Europe where the living is easy and cheap. Until, of course, the psychopathic wealthy perverts get their hands on you. It’s the same mix of brutal laughs, shock value and the truly disturbing as the first one. What’s interesting about the Hostel series is that, behind the gore and the splatter, there’s a dark satirical edge to proceedings.

Daily Mail readers won’t like it — yep, you’re right, we’re going to hell in a handcart, films like this are responsible, yada yada yada — but there’s more to this than meets the (crudely extracted) eye. We can hardly single out one of the nasty bits here, creative as they are, because that would make us look like freaks. However, the best bit of the film is the interplay between two of the psychopathic wealthy perverts — played by Desperate Housewives' duo Richard Burgi and Roger Bart — who are attempting to bond over the depravity and think it’ll make them tougher in their corporate lives back home. It’s cold, cold stuff but very funny.

There’s enough thought behind Hostel: Part II that makes it impossible to write the film off as just ‘torture porn.’ It’s not just 90 minutes of viscera and sadism. This is actually a pointed, sideways look at the killers’ motives and, to some extent, the state of the union. We suspect that, given half a chance, Eli Roth could become a very important filmmaker.

EXTRAS ***** A While Hostel II, despite the extended violence on the DVD, is still only a three-star movie, it does at least feature five-star extras. In addition to the extended cut — an appropriate word in the circumstances — there’s a radio interview with Eli Roth, a man who generally gives good quote, the usual raft of (dull) deleted scenes and some surprisingly good featurettes and a grisly gag reel. The best extras, though, are the commentaries. You get Roth solo in the ‘Director’ commentary and Roth plus lead actress Lauren German, Vera Jordanova and Richard Burgi for the ‘Actors’ commentary and, Eli Roth, Gabriel Roth and some bloke called Tarantino on the ‘Producers’ commentary. All are excellent, and their presence gives the film a completely unexpected positive makeover. However, film students may wish to take notes once Roth and QT go all geek-showdown and start referencing more obscure movies than you could possibly see AND hold down a relationship.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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