Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Hostel Part II (2007)

“No, Dad, we’re going to Prague. It’ll be fine. It’s not the Ukraine.”

Sequels, eh? They can (often) be rubbish, or they can be The Godfather Part II. This one is more of a Scream 2, riffing on the tropes and themes established by the original in its gloriously playful, postmodern way. I rather enjoyed it. As with many good sequels, though, I may have enjoyed this more than the original but a lot of the credit for that has to go to the original, which established things that the sequel doesn’t have to.

It’s the same hostel in Slovakia. It’s the same drill, no pun intended. The premise has already been established. What’s interesting is how the film uses the fact that it doesn’t need to do so much exposition to vary things a bit. There are two perspectives; a new set of three American victims- this time all female- and also two paying “customers” who have paid to do the torturing and killing. This latter perspective, in particular, keeps things fresh and deepens the concept; Stuart and Todd are contrasted in that one is nervous and one full of bravado, but things do not turn out as expected. It’s interesting, however, if I can return to my point from my review of the previous film about the depiction of Europeans, that both victims and villains are Americans. All the European characters are pretty much instrumental; it’s the Americans who have the agency. Interesting, too, that Beth is the sole survivor by virtue only of being stinking filthy rich.

The first to die, Lorna, is the virgin, a nice if predictable subversion of the horror film cliché. There’s also more satire of the ignorance of the travellers (“Slovakia? Wasn’t there some war there?”) and possibly a deliberate response to the criticism of producing “torture porn” in the scene in which Lorna is slowly and sensually tormented and bled to death by a naked woman with a sword. It’s a cleverer and more self-aware film than its predecessor. I liked it a lot.

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