THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Hostel: Part II (2007)
Directed by Eli Roth
“Hostel: Part II didn't get the love or the respect that it deserved.”
Like all film genres, horror has always had quite a few subgenres. Some last, some don’t. I think it’s a safe bet that perhaps the most controversial of all horror subgenres – torture porn – had its moment in time. Kinda like Grunge. Or jean shorts. But everything comes back in style.
Unlike splatter films, torture porn is defined by lingering on the death of the sucker, the "enjoyment" of watching them suffer in a near fetish way giving it oddball sexual overtones even if sex ain't a part of it. When Jason or Michael Myers kills, its brutal but the story doesn't center around just him killing. Here, memorable, not even likable characters rarely exist. Hell, just the name “torture porn” makes soccer moms cry because even the damn term sounds sadistic as hell. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If it isn’t your thing, good, move on because good horror is good horror no matter what label is attached to it. Sickly entertaining horror pushes boundaries so far that everyone should feel its mighty bitch slap. With that said, Eli Roth made a hellva splash with Cabin Fever and Hostel, but was the third time the charm with his sequel to Hostel?
Hostel: Part II didn't get the love or the respect that it deserved. Why? Perhaps it was overshadowed by the Saw franchise, which released a new flick every...single...year and defined this new incarnation of splatter. Perhaps Hostel’s lack of not having a marketable or memorable killer limited the franchise. Perhaps people just didn’t get the thing. After all, the movie is beyond brutal, with all sorts of horrendous death and despair (along with lots and lots of hot nude women). But that's sorta the point, right? If that's the point, then you gotta just roll with it as writer/director Roth pushes the acceptable/ethical taste so far that it's impossible not to laugh at the thing. And I'm pretty sure we’re supposed to laugh. Roth's violence is so over-the-top that its damn near stupid. Just when it seems like it's too much, it pushes it into absudity. It seems that producer Quentin Tarantino gave his some good notes.
What I dig about Hostel: Part II is that Roth doesn’t attempt to recreate the mystery of what’s happening. There's no mystery left after the first film. Roth smartly tied the Jay Hernandez character from Part I to give some sort of connection/conclusion (he loses his head within five minutes), but his character doesn't really matter. Without the mystery of who killed off tourists, this film becomes all about the kill, which means Roth avoids sticking to a formula. While there’s pounds of horrifying action, Roth makes sure that no one takes it all too serious.
For Part II we’re given a new batch of victims, the three girls who went out for a Euro vacation, all who are doomed for kidnapping by Euro thugs. But this time Roth has more fun with the “clients”, those who entered into contracts for the experience to kill. It does annoy me that the Hostel films lack a definable villain, but I love the bad dudes in this movie, the two American dopes. One is your typical, jockish asshole who continually amped while the other acts like the moral center. Well, as moral as someone can get who went on a paid slaughter. However, that change is enough to give the film a little drama beyond the victims since we don't care as much because the surprise is gone. If anything, I think the movie would have been more effective and more compelling if the American killers would have been the main characters. That would have been a different movie obviously, but interesting all the same.
Now, since this is a pornographic torture movie, it seems right to name the best sequences. Best (near) kill? The asshole American client having a good time by taunting his victim when he accidentally hits his victim with a handsaw. It’s messed up, but funny. Most painful kill? I’ll just say a dude loses his manhood by a pair of snips. Worst...thing...ever...to...see.