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Hostel: Part II(2007)
Three young students from the U.S. taking classes in Rome set off for a weekend trip when they run into a beautiful model from one of their art classes. Also on her way to an exotic destination, the gorgeous European invites the coeds to come along, assuring them they will be able to relax and rejuvenate. Will the girls find the oasis they are looking for? Or are they poised to become victims for hire, pawns in the fantasies of the sick and privileged from around the world who secretly travel here to savor more grisly pursuits?
For more about Hostel: Part II and the Hostel: Part II Blu-ray release, see Hostel: Part II Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 5, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova
Director: Eli Roth
» See full cast & crew
Hostel: Part II Blu-ray Review
A sequel that far surpasses its predecessor comes to Blu-ray in a solid effort from Sony
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 5, 2007
Any idea what you're going to do in there?
You don't even want to know...
Hostel Part II is not a great movie, but it's infinitely better than the original. This makes it seem a lot better than it really is, especially having watched the two films within a few days of one another. The quality came as a surprise to be sure; critics gave it mixed reviews and audiences responded by spending far fewer dollars at the box office on this than they did the original Hostel. It's a shame, because this movie (unlike its predecessor) actually offers what one expects from a mainstream movie: plot, motive, back story, decent acting, and a couple of very good twists.
Hostel Part II opens with a recap of the first film. The lone survivor from that film is offering an account of his perils to the police via a dream sequence, with scenes from the first movie included to clue in anyone new to the franchise to what's going on, and what to expect in the next 90 minutes. The survivor soon awakens from what will be his last slumber, and promptly loses his head over breakfast. Though brief, I found this character's coping with the aftermath of the horrors of Hostel far more satisfying than anything seen in that first film.
As the next chapter finally begins, we meet three American girls traveling through Europe. Beth (Laura German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips), and Lorna (Heather Matazarro) are the victims-to-be in this go-round, and each one is infinitely more likable than the trio of Paxton, Josh, and Oli from the first film. After a scary incident on a train that is instantly recognizable as a set-up to lure the girls closer to those who would do them in, their new friend Axelle (Vera Jordanova) tells them of a hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia that has a great spa, sure to relax them after a tense situation. This, of course, is the very same hostel from the first movie. Once checked in, we know this trio won't be checking out.
The unquestionable bright spot in this movie emanates from the villains, Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart), two American friends who have won a bidding war run by Elite Hunting Company to torture and kill Whitney and Beth, respectively. Theirs is the angle that was so obviously missing from the first film. Finally, Eli Roth takes the audience behind-the-scenes of the Elite Hunting Company. We see how the victims are chosen, how "buying" a victim is accomplished, and how the torturers prepare mentally for the task and why they (or at least Todd and Stuart) are motivated to do such a thing. I quite enjoyed the "bidding war" sequence where various fat cats bid on their laptops and Blackberries for the right to torture these girls. The movie offers up two very good twists near the end, one of which I didn't see coming at all.
Hostel Part II is a fairly entertaining movie that blows it predecessor out of the water in just about every regard. It has a better, more streamlined plot that delves into the dark(er) side of torture rather than just showing the gore and torture for gore and torture's sake. There is gore here to be sure; Hostel Part II is gorier than the first and there are several cringe-worthy and disturbing scenes. Richard Burgi and Roger Bart steal the show as Todd and Stuart, and nothing about this movie screams "bad horror sequel." If anything, this would have been the better first film in the Hostel franchise. The first would have fit right in as the expected inferior sequel.
Hostel: Part II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Surprisingly, after what was a very good transfer for the first film, Hostel Part II suffers from some annoying and unfortunate problems that did not plague the original. This is a dark transfer throughout, and flesh tones are on the dark side, and there is constant noise on screen for the majority of the movie. Darker scenes suffer form black crush at times. Even brighter, outdoor scenes, such as on a golf course, look faded, washed out, and uneven. Sometimes, flesh tones lighten up and the noise disappears. It's perhaps the most hit-and-miss transfer I have seen yet, more so than The Dirty Dozen if only for the fact this film was released theatrically only months ago. I have to wonder how much of this was intentional on the part of director Roth, and how much is due to a poor transfer. With the high quality of the other discs Sony is churning out, not to mention the quality of Hostel, I have to lean towards at least part of this being due to artistic intent, but some aspects such as the fleshtones and the noise can likely be attributed to the job transferring the film to Blu-ray.
Hostel: Part II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This disc, like that of the original Hostel, is a joy to listen to. Presented with both a PCM uncompressed 5.1 soundtrack as well as a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track, Hostel Part II's soundtrack is atmospheric, tense, heavy on the bass, and clear. The film makes good use of the surround speakers and creates a very immersive sound field that drags you into the movie. As with Hostel, Hostel Part II's best use of sound comes during the film's final act as once again the sounds of torture and terror--heavy, slamming iron doors, power tools, dripping blood, and the barking of dogs echoing in the dank corridors of the factory raise the tension of the film's scarier scenes considerably. There is nothing bad to say about this track. It's aggressive, heart-pounding, and fun. Watching this movie in the dark with the volume turned up is a terrifying experience!
Hostel: Part II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Hostel Part II, like its predecessor, comes jam packed with special features. Three commentary tracks are the highlight here. The first is a solo effort with director Eli Roth. Roth himself admits that there is no need to listen to all these commentary tracks unless you are a movie reviewer or a budding film student. His hope is that you listen to different tracks at different times as the movie and the viewer age with time. Roth says his Hostel Part II is his tirade against the Bush administration and his belief that President Bush is "kill[ing]...people in Iraq for oil." If this movie is supposed to be political satire, I somehow missed it even after listening to Roth's explanation.
Next up is a producer's commentary track featuring Roth, Quentin Tarantino, and Gabe Roth. This is your typical commentary track with the obligatory behind-the-scenes information that adds a little bit to the movie, but it gets rather long in the tooth at times. Worthwhile for fans of the movie and those who love to listen to Tarantino and Roth, two individuals who can never hear themselves talk enough.
The final track is an actors commentary track and features Roth and actors Richard Burgi, Laura German, and Vera Jordanova. This is an interesting track that delves pretty deep into the process of acting in a movie like this, and there are also some miscellaneous anecdotes that fill some of the lulls.
Four featurettes are available. The first is Hostel Part II: The Next Level (1080i, 26:28). This feature takes the viewers inside the production of the movie from the first meeting discussing a sequel to Hostel to the wrap-up of the final scene filmed, which was actually one of the first scenes in the movie. The Art of KNB Effects (1080i, 6:02) is a short making of the gore feature. It's always interesting to see how some of these gruesome effects are made. Production Design (1080i, 6:43) shows how the train, fair, and dungeon sequences were created. Finally, we have Hostel Part II: A Legacy of Torture (1080i, 23:45). The highlight here is a discussion with Dr. Sheldon Roth, Eli Roth's father, who discusses the culture and history of torture, but the majority of this feature takes place at the Museum of Mediaeval Criminology in San Gimignano, Tuscany, featuring the museum's director, Aldo Migliorinim, who presents us with a fascinating tour of the history of torture devices. Also featured is Roth talking up his own movie. It's clear he is very proud of his work on both films.
Ten deleted scenes (1080p) are included. Each contains a brief text introduction explaining what the scene is and why it was cut.
"The Treatment" radio interview with Eli Roth, a Blood and Guts Gag Reel, Surveillance Cameras (1080i, 7:18) (8 monitors showing the goings-on inside the torture factory), and trailers for Resident Evil: Extinction, Tekkonkinkreet, and Vacancy (all 1080p) round out this strong list of supplements.
Hostel: Part II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I was pleasantly surprised with this film. I liked it, and I didn't expect to after watching Hostel. It's nothing I'll likely watch over and over, but I don't feel like I wasted an hour and half of my life this time around. Unfortunately, the video quality is not what I expected here, especially comparing it to the first Hostel, but the audio quality is as impressive as what was on the first film. This disc has a lot of supplements but they're not on the same level as those found on the Blu-ray disc for Hostel. Hostel Part II isn't that bad of a horror movie. It's amazing what a little plot can do.
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