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Hostel II: Up Comes the Beast

June 8, 2009

If you are hiding behind a veil, walking blindly through the haze of a perfectly choreographed existence, I would suggest staying as far away from Hostel II as you possibly can.  And no, the fact that you had sat through all of the first Hostel wide eyed and delighted will not have sufficiently prepared you for what Eli Roth will expose to you from within your thinly constructed shell.

Hostel II picks up soon after the conclusion of Hostel.  This time we follow three young art students to Prague, two extremely hot, close friends and one misfit, Heather Matarazzo from Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, who is taken along out of pity.  Before boarding the train to Prague, however, Roth presents his audience with the twist.

momentary lapse of reason

Brilliant in its subtlety, the camera shows us the clean-shaven, statuesque pose of a fully nude, male model.  Our girls are artists, and today’s subject is the human body.  Roth knows that his audience is a mostly male one, and he plays on their sexual inhibitions and fears.

But this is not Hostel I, this is a new movie, and thus, a new model enters.  Vera Jordanova, clad in a white robe, is gorgeous, sexy, and irresistable. She slowly removes her robe, and there is a gasp from the artists on screen. It is erotic, yet somehow strange.  Roth effortlessly presents the seductress; she is  a siren, and our victims are the sailors.

And off they go, headed toward the tortures that we know await them.  And once they reach the Hostel, Roth shifts gears again.  Their passports are scanned, and suddenly a frantic auction is taking place around the globe.  First a man on a golf course, some business men in china, a woman in a business suit, and then more and more people in an ever expanding network of subversive human desire are shown bidding obscene amounts of money on the chance to slaughter an innocent.

from the depths; the beast

from the depths; the beast

The victors in this auction are Todd and Stuart.  They are nothing special. Just two men looking to explore their dark desires.  Todd is especially masculine, and is presented as a bulldog, looking to transform himself into a vicious, powerful shark.  Stuart is a family man, eating breakfast with his wife and kids, when he receives Todd’s call.  He sneaks away from home and soon the two men are landing in Prague and preparing for their feast.

And so two paths are converging. If it all seems like a retread of the original, so far it really is.  But not for long.  Roth is aware that his audience has willingly paid for the right to participate in this world, and so he knows that somewhere deep within, they are anticipating what is to come, wanting what is to come, and even somewhat impatient in having to wait while he builds his characters and brings them together.

And this is where Hostel II is different.  Hostel II is not funny, Hostel II is not satire, Hostel II is not a tired sequal.  Hostel II is a brutal, grotesque, and unrelenting exploration of the human condition.  There is torture, brutality, sexuality, and depravity; but the brilliance lies in the scalpel that Roth uses to slice through the walls that we put up in front of our eyes in desperate hope of keeping buried the darkness.

Hostel II will get inside your head, it will unlock something that you may not have known was hiding there (or maybe you did), and it will leave you feeling defenseless.  If you watch it alone, just make sure there is someone to comfort you after, because you will need the cleansing.

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