Is Hostel Part II A Terrible Sequel?

Following the success of the 2005 feature, Eli Roth made a follow-up to Hostel, but this time the film centers around three young American women traveling through Rome. Of course, they’re lured into the torturous place and they become the latest pawns in the murderous game. The original shocked audiences because it felt fresh and new; however, when 2007 rolled around, the premise didn’t have the new car smell going for it this time around, which is why it likely received a low 44% on rotten tomatoes. The 2007 horror film also saw a weak return at the box office, with Hostel Part II making only $35.60 worldwide. This number obviously pales in comparison to the $82 million that the original made. First things first, for Hostel Part II, the torture comes first, which isn’t much of a surprise. However, the issue lies that it’s essentially the same film when it comes to the three women. Hell, even the kill formula is a carbon copy of the first movie. The supporting characters are pretty much there to die, whereas Lauren Graham’s Beth is the only one given a true chance at survival. The reason the film isn’t a failure in the creative department is that it does introduce new elements that freshen up the story. There are some clever twists and turns throughout the 2007 feature, but that doesn’t mean that the scenes of Lorna and Whitney are the easiest to watch.

The missed opportunity comes from the deeper exploration of the hostel society itself. Showcasing the culture through Roger Bart’s Stuart and Richard Burgi’s Todd is actually a great plot added to the film. It helps open up the world of Hostel and introduces new elements that we weren’t able to see in the first film. In fact, had Hostel Part II focused on Stuart and Todd’s arc, this could’ve been a great film. It’s clear that this is a rich man’s game, but how did these two get involved with this world? How was the hostel formed in the first place? What are the rules in general? And what’s the overall culture like? What are the mindsets of these sick psychopaths who deem it okay to torture innocent people, civilians? Sadly, Hostel Part II doesn’t truly dive into these topics. The twist of Stuart being the monster of the two was well done, but it would’ve been nice to follow him the night before his murderous and rapey turn, that way, it would’ve made more sense why he became such an animal. Him seeing the dismembered body of his friend Todd doesn’t fully explain why he’s suddenly okay with murder, and it definitely doesn’t justify him being a sick pervert to Beth. It often feels that Roth crafts these moments for shock and surprise. Still, the B-plot is what keeps the energy of the film going, and the villains of Hostel Part II are intriguing enough to watch. This is why it feels like a disappointment that the film opts to follow the same path as its predecessor.

The twist of Beth buying herself out is actually great; however, it only emphasized that Roth missed out on telling a more compelling narrative. Still, is Hostel Part II a horrible sequel? No. Though the torture is harder to watch because women are at the forefront of this vehicle, it does satisfy the bloodlust of those coming in to see some grotesque gore. There’s no denying that Lorna’s torture scene is the best kill in the entire franchise. Penises are even tortured here! The film has the standard horror character model, we follow Beth, Lorna, and Whitney long enough to like them as people, but don’t truly explore them as characters.  Beth getting her revenge on Vera Jordanova’s Axelle was a nice “happy ending”, though the kids playing with Axelle’s head like a soccer ball is a mixed bag. It’s definitely over-the-top and ridiculous in a funny way, though it does underscore the seriousness of the entire film. Hostel Part II does have some dark humor sprinkled throughout its runtime but rarely undermines the overall tone of the movie. With this sequence being outright played for laughs it does create a jawing juxtaposition that clashes with everything that’s come before it. Still, it’s a light and harmless ending to a feature that’s mostly grim. Hostel Part II is a solid sequel that has a plethora of interesting ideas; It’s just a shame that those interesting ideas are pushed to the side in favor of revisiting the original’s rote formula.

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