Written By: Stephanie Pislis
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Rating: Three out of Five Graves
When talking about any of the Hostel movies in the trilogy, one cannot avoid the colloquial and overly used term, torture porn. Torture porn or Gorno is cinematic jargon used to describe a film that revolves around, you guessed it, torture. This term is a somewhat disparaging one that, when used, usually implies that the film lacks substance and solely relies on incessant torture as a means of entertainment and shock value. I personally am not a fan of this term. Being a fan of extreme gore, the association with torture and porn gives horror enthusiasts a bad rep.
As for Hostel II, torture does undoubtedly arise. The sequel begins where the first movie left off. Paxton, the sole survivor of the atrocities that took place in the first Hostel, is being tormented by nightmares. He is rather paranoid and rightfully so. Still within the first few scenes of the film, Paxton is found headless in his kitchen by his girlfriend. With their cat nibbling on the bloody, open gash where his head would have been, this scene creates a great initial hook that keeps its audience intrigued.
The film tells a new story, introducing the three main protagonists, all three of which are female. The film follows the same plot as the first movie. A group of three friends traveling Europe end up in a precarious situation that will eventually lead to their painful demise. One interesting aspect that differs from this film is the fact that we get an inside perspective from the point of view of the executioners. We are introduced to two wealthy friends, Todd and Stuart, who have decided to become members of this underground association and partake in the torture and taking of someone’s life. However, Stuart seems a bit more hesitant about the general idea than his overly excited friend. At one point, one of the protagonists gets the upper hand on one of the men and soon the man becomes the victim.
Eli Roth, the director of the film, presents a quick montage of several wealthy people bidding on the girls that they would like to purchase and subsequently torture. The fact that these individuals are so rich yet still unhappy and unfulfilled to the point where they need to partake in such an event is an interesting critic on the role of money in relation to happiness in today’s society. These wealthy members need to physically take someone’s life in order to feel a complete sense of control and power.
The first torture scene is set up in a beautiful Victorian-style room. An in-ground ceramic bathtub is bordered by a plethora of candles and a woman enters the room and lays naked in the empty tub. This scene involves the awkward and shy girl who is bound by her feet and hanging over the tub. The naked woman in the tub then proceeds to slash at the girl’s clothes with a large scythe. Once the girl’s clothes are completely torn off, the woman slashes at her skin and ravishes in the blood that drips down onto her. This scene is one of my favorites because it is a clear allusion to Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess from the 16th century, infamous for bathing in the blood of virgins in a quest for eternal youth. Having always had a fascination with countess Bathory, this scene truly made me smile. From a gore perspective, this scene was unique and tasteful.
Another torture scene involves one of the executioners, Todd. During his scene, he begins to verbally abuse his victim. He then continues to tease his victim with an electric saw. When Todd turns to look at the outlet and gives it a gentle yank, the saw accidentally catches the girls face, cutting deep through flesh and bone, leaving a fatal, bloody wound. Todd, being caught off guard, is shocked and appalled at what he has done. He suddenly has a change of heart. He demands to leave. However, an employee makes him aware that as part of the contract he must finish the job and take the girl’s life. After further refusal, Todd is mauled to death by a pack of fervid dogs.
An employee then takes a picture of the dying girl whose face has just been sawed into. He then proceeds to go around knocking on clients’ doors offering the girl at a discounted price. One of the clients is an older man who is in middle of torturing a young man of his own. He humbly refuses the offer and goes back to his dinner. A dinner which consists of a large piece of human flesh taken from the still-living young man. What is interesting about this scene is that the old man playing the role of the cannibal is Ruggero Deodato, the director of the infamous movie Cannibal Holocaust. This, in my opinion, is one of the best cameos in a horror film to date!
Overall this was a very good movie and better than I expected, especially for a sequel. Even though the ending was a bit cliché with the damsel in distress getting an upper hand on her killer and conveniently having gained such a large inheritance, it was still extremely entertaining! I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of easy watching torture movies. Do not go into this movie expecting a cinematic masterpiece or a film with an intricate story line. If taken for what it is, Hostel II is great gory fun.