Ah, 2007, the year the iPhone was first announced. We all shook our heads in disbelief at the ridiculousness of this strange new device. “But what about the iPod!“, we cried! “We already have one of those!” 2007 was also the year I graduated high school, got a puppy, and Harry Potter came to an end with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Oh, and it was the year a little ol’ movie came out called Hostel: Part 2. It was a pretty good year!
The movies blowing up the box office that year were things like Spider-Man 3 (aka emo Spider-Man is revealed), 300, The Simpsons Movie, and Ocean’s Thirteen. In the background, horror was pumping out sequels like The Hills Have Eyes 2, 28 Weeks Later, and Saw 4.
On June 8th, 2007, Hostel: Part 2 hit theatres, coming two years after the original success of 2005’s Hostel. Most folks remember Hostel being a ground breaker for the torture genre, but by the time it had arrived on scene, there were Saw movies bringing in big bucks and Haute Tension was making waves. But Hostel remained one of that genre’s biggest hits. Hostel arrived at that perfect moment in time when North America was still dealing with post 9/11 trauma, being faced with leaked photos from Guantanamo Bay and constant replays of 9/11 clips that reminded us that violence was in our own backyards. Eli Roth tapped into that zeitgeist and brought people out of their dark holes to distract themselves from every day violence with the constant violence on screen.
Lionsgate was in a rush to release a sequel so that they could capitalize on their original success and brought Eli Roth back along for the ride. Roth sat down with Fear.net back in 2007 and said he joined back with the studio only if he could make the film better than the original. He cites Aliens and Road Warrior as his favorite sequels and wanted to create that same experience. Ultimately, the sequel could not reach the hype of the first and the first weekend profits fell short, bringing in $8.2 million compared to $20 million for its original.
Hostel: Part 2 was directed, produced and written by Roth with lots of help from Mike Fleiss and Chris Briggs who both went on to do Hostel: Part 3 and Hostel: Part 4. Filming took two months and three days with a budget of ten million dollars. When it opened it came in sixth place being beaten by Shrek The Third, a new Pirates of the Caribbean film and Ocean’s 13. Roth also speaks very openly about internet pirating during that period that he believes affected his film. Hostel: Part 2 had a workprint leak online and they believe almost 2 million illegal downloads were done on the same day the film was released in theatres.
But at the time, a majority of horror fans did enjoy the film and still applaud it to this day. Hostel: Part 2 was nominated for six Spike TV Scream Awards including best horror film and best director and made it onto Entertainment Weekly’s list of 20 best horror films of the past 20 years.
Hostel: Part 2 makes it easy for us to fall right back into the story, spending the first ten minutes reminding us of the original and gently setting things up for the next chapter of the story. It returns to its muted colors and over the top gore almost immediately, just checking that you’re still paying attention. But soon slides back into that mellow storyline that slowly leads up to something more terrifying and you quickly feel lulled into the hypnotic pull of a bunch of innocent tourists on vacation getting in waaaay over their heads. The biggest difference with the sequel is that you like these characters and root for them, they don’t make dumb decisions, they just get wrapped up in something much bigger than they could ever imagine.
This film focuses on three art students, Beth, Lorna, and Whitney. They are studying in Italy, where they meet the model they are tasked to draw who invites them to a spa in Prague on a weekend getaway. Once they arrive, they book into the hostel and instantly the game is set – which kicks off an incredible scene where the girls begin unpacking and celebrating, intercut with clips of the creepy old rich folks bidding on them on their phones and computers. In the town there’s a Harvest Festival going on and the girls happily attend, drinking and partying and flirting with the locals. The two men who won the bid watch from across the river, distanly eyeing the young women.
One by one the women are kidnapped and must fight for their lives inside the compound we know so well from the first film.
Hostel: Part 2 is enough of a departure from the original that you can enjoy it without seeing the first. But it does make a great companion. Roth spoke about how Hostel was the boy’s version and Hostel: Part 2 is the girl’s version. And despite the obvious being the main characters, I completely agree with him. Part 2 touches on the fears that women face when travelling, having to deal with drunken men leering at them, an aggressive group of drunken men who try to hunt them down, getting robbed.. and that’s just in the span of a few hours! While they’re supposed to be on vacation, they are constantly reminding each other to stick together and not trust any local men.
It’s also funny how suspicious you feel as a viewer after knowing what happened in the first movie. You feel instantaneously protective of the three women introduced and incredibly paranoid of everyone around them. I think the knowing is what makes it more edge-of-your-seat type watching, and it’s easy to relate to these young girls. In Hostel, the guys are pretty awful and honestly most of the time you’re rooting for them to die, but in Part 2 you don’t want these characters to die. You know what’s waiting for them and you want to protect them.
There’s stand out performances all around. Honorable mentions being Lauren German who portray Beth with incredible determination and likeability. She’s tough, sensitive and has these stunning blue eyes that pierce through the screen, showing every scrap of emotion. Bijou Phillips who plays Whitney, Beth’s best friend is another standout. She plays the horror movie sidekick to a tee. Stuart, one of the men who wins the bid, is played by Roger Bart who dabbles the line of endearing and absolutely insane so well it’s mind blowing. He makes an incredible villain who at first, you’re rooting for and hoping he’ll change his mind, and very quickly you’re cheering as Beth castrates him.
Speaking of that…specific…scene…
The violence in Part 2 is over the top like Roth is known for, but is not in your face constantly. He chooses his moments specifically to be incredibly violent and that’s something I’ve always enjoyed about his films. There’s some stomach dropping moments (like when Whitney takes a saw to the head) that stick with you long after the film, but I still feel they are necessary to the plot. There’s an incredible scene when Lorna is murdered by a woman who bathes in her blood, an homage to the “Blood Countess” who was supposedly a real person who killed over 600 young females in Hungary in the early 1600s. The legend being she would bathe in the blood of virgins to retain her beauty. The scene ends up being simultaneously beautiful and horrifying. It also shows another side of the rich folks who are bidding on these young men and women.
The ending of Hostel: Part 2 is the most fun part of the film. It has that kind of epic conclusion where you find yourself on your feet cheering. Beth manages to turn the whole compound on its head, using her own wealth and confidence to buy her way out of the situation in an epic scene where she’s got a gun pointed at the creator, a wrench wrapped around Stuart’s dick and is just yelling, “don’t tell me what I can’t afford, there’s nothing I can’t afford, I can buy and sell everyone in this room!” It’s incredible.
If we wrap it all up, I think one of the greatest themes that gets touched on, which Roth has spoken out about as well, is of course the price of life. These rich folks are making a game of buying people and cracking jokes about the process when ultimately, they are getting bought themselves by the company. Because there is always someone richer or more powerful out there. Wealth is, of course, a huge thing touched upon in both part one and two and I think it’s what makes these movies so powerful ten years later. And Part 2 sticks with me a lot more, especially in 2018.
Highly recommend you take another watch of Hostel: Part 2 if you haven’t in awhile because it’s not just torture porn, it’s a great romp that touches on some important issues and brings you along for one hell of a ride!