Hostel: Part II review

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Do we really need Hostel: Part II? After all, the beauty of the ’05 original was the reveal: the factory, the business, the monied clients… the sick concept that ordinary people would eviscerate innocents for the ultimate power(tools) trip. While the grisly close-ups gave a lick of colour to an anaemic genre, we’ve since had Saws II and III, Paradise Lost, Captivity…

Yes, we need Hostel: Part II. Why? Because just as the original’s cavernous torture factory has been upgraded to include keypad security and high-roller suites, this sequel is a superior beast. Technically the leap is stupefying, the mechanical button-jabbing of the first outing replaced by scenes of real guile. Writer/director Eli Roth uses colour, composition, camera movement and music to bring a terrible poetry to events: the camera swirling through a 180 as it reverse dollies, gliding back to reveal a victim hanging upside down, naked; or a pair of clients coasting into the factory’s forecourt in a limousine, the high-angled shot and a mournful folk song, ‘Synecku, Synecku’, passing heavenly judgement. “You look anywhere in the world where there’s no law… Chad, New Orleans… this is the shit people do,” says Todd (Richard Burgi) to buddy Stuart (Roger Bart).

Tracking these businessmen from America to Bratislava, from golf course, wife and kids to grimy torture cell, is one strand of the satisfying plot, with Roth also showing us more of the organisation behind the meat packing. Then there’s US backpackers Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), lured into the trap. Unlike the boorish guys in Hostel (just torture ’em already!), these girls are fun to hook up with… even if the inevitability of their fates dilutes suspense. Less inevitable – in fact it’s downright shocking – is Roth’s torture technique: sound effects and cutaways, shadows and suggestion. Some viewers will feel cheated, but their disappointment at missing the kill only corroborates the movie’s point. The beast is in all of us. Now that’s scary.

Any blood here is pumping straight to the brain. Hostel: Part II is astute and subversive, its wily sexual politics paving the way for a killer climax. Significantly raising his game, Eli Roth has crafted a sequel to die for.

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