Thursday, 8 November 2007

A rant about Hostel's...

Hostel Part II (and Part I as well, I guess):

I actually really quite liked Roth's debut, "Cabin Fever" and have watched it many times...but then I ended up being fairly disappointed with "Hostel". Admittedly upon second viewing I liked it much better than I had at first, but the problem that simply not enough fucked up shit happens. It's reputation is bigger than the payoff, the bark bigger than the bite ... oddly enough it's kind of like a modern day video nasty. Many video nasties just didn't live up to their bark (although some did with snarling to spare) - and this was the case with "Hostel". It was pimped on it's 'European-nutters-kidnap-backpackers-for-rich-people-to-slaughter' schtick almost single handedly...and then when almost nothing happens in the first half you're ticking over by the time anything properly nasty gets going.

And then the nastiness stops and it's just some running around in the dark and then the end (at least with a deadly trip to the bog, though).

However, for all it's flaws, "Hostel" is a genre masterpiece when compared to "Hostel: Part II". I cannot understand how Total Film gave this such a high rating (a magazine I respect and which more-often-than-not shares my own personal movie opinions) - - 4 out of 5 if memory serves. I'd struggle to give it 2 out of 5. This isn't my initial opinion, I've actually sat through it twice now, just to see if I'd appreciate it more this time around.

From the get-go we already know exactly what is happening and who the bad guys are (or are likely to be). There is a complete lack of tension, I mean absolutely none whatsoever, Postman Pat losing his van keys to a magpie is far more arm-rest-gripping than this shoddy sequel.

Add to it a sloppy bundle of boring/lame/just unlikable characters, and you've got nothing to tide you over for - again - the first half...although the first torture set-piece does peak your horror interests while it's on screen. A scene, in fact, that's actually handled quite well, it's both grim and interesting.

But then it all goes rather dull again until finally - the shit starts hitting the fan - I will say at this point that the bidding war was also interesting, and opens up one of the more intriguing parts of this film. This time we actually get to see it partly from the viewpoint of the silver-pocket-lined suits who impart their torture onto others...it's just a shame the entire film didn't follow this angle, instead of half-resorting to re-hashing the first film's backpackers, but just making them all women instead of all men...it's like a mirror that fancies itself for gender re-assignment, the two gangs and their initial trapper are that similar. Like I said, rehash.

So yes, finally we're into the depths of the human-hunting-underground-nutter-lodge-gaff, and finally - some serious KNB gore gets thrown around with gay abandon, about damn time. For a movie(s) marketted for their relentless grottiness and horror, it sure takes a long time for anything seriously nasty to get going. I wouldn't mind as much if the waiting was actually interesting for the most part, rather than tiresome and reheated from the first film.

The black & white reactions of the key client protagonists though is still as annoying as it was the first time I watched this film. It's either one reaction or the other - gung-ho or whimpering...and to add insult to injury we're forced to swallow not one, but two complete attitude reversals, it just feels rushed...sloppy...underdeveloped.

The second half is better than I remembered it, but the first half is twice as bad as I remembered it...so ultimately the film is no better.

I appreciate what Roth is trying to do with the "Hostel" films, and I maintain that if you took the two movies and put the good parts from each movie, cutting away the bad parts from each movie, you'd end up with a bloody superb 2 hour horror fiesta...but alas that never happened. Instead we've got two so-so movies with larger reputations than actual balls (ironic really, considering the end of the second film, ha!)

I just hope that Roth doesn't bother doing a third "Hostel", but you just know he wants to desperately. He almost has a trilogy under his belt, but come on man - do something different and really put some full-on effort into the script. Don't use a gimmick if you're going to skimp on it. If you have a good idea, follow it full-heartedly ... don't glance around it a bit and then add some re-heated-first-movie-filler.

I was kind of surprised to hear that Roth bitched about horror fans downloading the work print that got leaked - it's not the horror fan's fault, it's the fault of the leak you've got on your side of the movie-making exchange. If something is put up for free, and before release, of course the horror fans are going to flock to it. But perhaps people are getting a bit tired of these torture movies (I despise "torture porn" though, it's a childish dismissal of these films which are, ultimately, important to the history of the horror genre and deserve more than a flippant sound bite).

All-in-all, it's just a let down that didn't need to happen...but should Roth choose to tread some new ground, then I'm all ears, eyes and everything else.

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