Hostel: Part II
I don't know about you, but I actually enjoyed Hostel. Forget that unfair "Torture Porn" moniker, there was a lot to be had from the film. Sure there were scenes of terror and horror, as there are with any horror film, but there was also a gripping and fascinating idea behind it and there was drama and suspense to boot.
Hostel: Part II had me just as excited. There was the promise of much more, and especially an interesting twist. This time the story looked at the people involved in the organisation more than those victims pulled into it unaware.
The premise sounded strong, the question was, did it work?
Before I do begin though, huge thanks once again to the Edinburgh Ocean Terminal Vue Cinema who are doing a great deal for Filmstalker and are a great bunch of people. A great cinema and well worth visiting.
The film begins exactly where the first left off, and we see where the lead character from Hostel (Filmstalker review), Paxton, has now come to after his terrible ordeal. Quite quickly we are whisked off to the new group of potential victims, the girls.
The girl's setup is quickly carried out, covering the ground that the first film had, taking the girls on a similar journey to the boys in the first film, passing recognisable points, characters and situations, raising flags to the audience from the first.
With hindsight I would say that this was cleverly done, but at the time I felt these beginnings of the film were quite jumpy and harshly edited. It almost wanted to tie up the lose ends too quickly, set the scene for the next round of victims and leap towards the opposite side of the fence, something I was actually looking forward to.
We're introduced to the entire bidding process and from here, not only are we seeing the other side of the story, but we're beginning to delve into the fascinating promise of the film, just who are these people who pay to torture and murder other defenseless human beings? Buying and selling them like cattle.
As are are narrowed down to the winners we begin to see their personalities and normal lives. One is ultra successful and seems a hard edged business man living life to the full, the other is the average mid level manager, married with two kids.
It was really this aspect of the film that was pulling me in, after all we'd seen the location, ancillary characters, the setups for the kidnappings, and the shock of the brutality of the killings. What we hadn't seen are the people behind it all, in a real world, non typecast way.
From this point on though we don't delve any deeper. Sure we see the improvements and some of the faces behind the killings, but we don't truly get into the motivations, the drive, and the mentality of them. From here on the promise is more a gloss over, seeing what happens and delivering some surprises, but really missing out on the meat behind the blood.
The two American buddies who are entering this world for the first time are well cast, well acted, and give strong performances, as well as a few great moments when their characters really get going.
As I said though the real focus is on the torture and horror and these make some superb use of sound to really make you uncomfortable.
The first killing scene is done very well, and builds the tension to a climax and then stretches it out for best effect. Yet afterwards it just felt that we were led straight into the horror and the suspenseful build up of this first scene was lost.
One thing that I really missed was the close association with the panic and terror of the victim before the torturer arrived. In the first film these scenes really did get to me, in Part II they seemed to be rushed through for the gory pay out.
So a lot of the tension and suspense was lost, and it did become much more of a straightforward horror film with some pretty shocking and gory moments. I would guess that this is one of the reasons that critics are banding around that "torture porn" label.
For me there's a distinction in Eli Roth's films. I saw Cabin Fever and thought it was a good horror with interesting characters, but in the end it was more of a film to laugh with and get hit by the odd moment of being slightly sickened. The difference from there to Hostel was major.
Hostel provided a lot more strength to the story, the plot and characters were more realistic and there was a lot more to get the mind racing. There was also subtlety and less out and out shocks. Hostel made me think that there was a lot more to come out of Roth.
Now, with Hostel: Part II I feel he's taken a step backwards to that Cabin Fever type of film. Less plot, more slasher. That is exemplified in one of the closing scenes with the feeding of body parts to the dogs.
There are quite a few connections to the original film, and some feel forced and unnecessary such as the reappearance of the children, while others are welcome and add to the story, such as the man behind the counter in the Hostel itself, his role starts to bring us behind the scenes of the organisation.
Yet despite these connections the film doesn't stand up as well to the original. It seems to have lost a lot of the depth and cleverness to the script - something I know that by saying will raise a few questions, yes, the original was clever, horror can be more than blood and gore. Unfortunately Hostel: Part II seems to turn more to the horror-lite feeling of Cabin Fever, less complex, less psychological, and more outright blood, scares and gore.
I found this very disappointing, and while there were moments that do bring the story and tension to the levels of the first, for the most part it fails to reach the level of Hostel.
There were loads of "cool quotes" from various sites and publications for this film and not really a great deal of content. However the trailer was strong and had a really interesting feel, mixing the old school style of American slasher films with a modern day slick style.
The trailer looks stunning on the big screen, shame the film is so poor. A review is to follow.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
They certainly do, and this trailer shows another old style horror film updated with modern styling, and again it looks very strong.
Both Liam Neesom and Pierce Brosnan look fantastic in the trailer for this Western, yes a Western starring these two Irishmen. Put that aside, these two look like they are giving blistering performances.
Resident Evil: Extinction
This was the older trailer for the film, a trailer which really didn't make me think that we were going to see anything more than the previous films. It's the trailer we just saw from Comic-Con that changes everything, and they need to get this trailer replaced with it immediately.