Eli Roth returns with more torture cinema for those few weirdos who enjoy it. To his credit, this film is probably slightly better than its predecessor, but only just.
This time around it’s three young women on vacation in Europe who make the disastrous mistake of taking a diversion into Slovakia. (I can’t imagine the irreparable damage this franchise has done to the country’s tourism, and to make matters worse one of the characters uses the phrase Borat as an insult. Eastern Europe’s never gonna recover from Hollywood…) The only thing that made me drag my feet along to a sequel of a film I didn’t like was the cast – though I needn’t have bothered. It’s a while since I’ve seen Heather Matarazzo onscreen, and though it’s 12 years since Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse she’s still being offered the same roles. Bijou Phillips was the other reason I went to see Part II, and it turns out she’s playing the same headstrong, promiscuous type she did in films like Tart and Bully. I really can’t imagine that either of them were drawn to any uniqueness on the part of the characters, or why they would even want to be in a film like this. That being said, these two actresses are certainly playing to their strengths, so the performances this time around are much better than in Hostel. Lauren German gets the most screentime, and her character is vaguely interesting, insofar as she gets to make some tough decisions.
The film unfortunately follows the formula of the first pretty closely, excepting some minute yet significant alterations. We get to follow both the clients and the victims, which is was a clever way of opening up the greater narrative, and the film generally has a larger scope. It must be said that Roth has crafted a better quality film with Part II, insofar as the pacing, cinematography, editing and music are all top notch. He clearly had a bit more money to play around with this time also (twice as much, to be precise). Some of the scenes are – dare I say – beautiful, particularly at the harvest festival.
There’s been a lot of disgust expressed by critics here in Australia, and it’s fair enough. This isn’t quality cinema, rather the worst of the torture-obsessed horror movies of late. If Hostel was your thing, then Part II will suit you fine. I just hope I wasn’t sitting next to you in the cinema.Rating: