A worthy follow-up to the original, "Hostel Part 2" opens with a "Friday the 13th Part 2"-like cameo featuring Jay Hernandez, sole survivor of the first film, before introducing us to a new crop of ugly American college students about to be seduced into visiting the murderous hostel.
In this case, it's a trio of girls studying abroad. When they hit the Euro rails looking for kicks, only to find themselves being sexually harassed by unshaven Euro-guys, they're seduced by a seemingly friendly woman (Vera Jordanova) that previously served as their nude art model into heading up to a Slovakian hostel, where the greatest spa on the planet happens to be.
Gone is the mystery of the first film. We already know what the hostel is and what the girls are being led there for. Roth is able to keep the suspense up by introducing an interesting subplot: Two American guys heading to Europe to kill the girls. Showing more of how the murderous system 'Elite Hunting' Organization operates, Roth shows wealthy men participating in an online auction for the girls before heading out to Slovakia to take them on in the organization's death camp.
As in the first film, the American victims are for the most part stuck-up, self centered and sinful. The victimizers, as we get to know them, aren't unlike -- but they're older men. All of them are consumers in one form or another -- living off the economic hardships of foreigners. Roth seems to be saying that these girls probably have fathers like the men that are about to kill them. If this seems like I'm reading too much into the "Hostel" franchise, well ... there's a reason these films are so scary, and it's that they ring some truth. We live in a consumer-driven world that sucks the life force out of people. The "Hostel" films show that reality in an extreme way. So they ring true, and make a lot of money from consumers.
What's perhaps more interesting today than it was a year ago, is the fact that, indeed, Americans are hated around the world -- and seeing these clueless college girls gallivanting around overseas does make one genuinely fear for their safety. Heather Matarazzo, who was great in Todd Solondz's "Welcome to the Dollhouse," plays a journal-writing prude. Lauren German (last seen as the "teenage girl" in the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake) is the rich girl who gets the major character arc in the storyline. And Bijou Phillips is the drunken sinner girl. The three are seduced into going to the hostel by an art subject they were painting in a class taught by legendary '70s horror/exploitation actress Edwige Fenech.
As sequels go, this is one of the best the genre has seen since -- well a few weeks back, "28 Weeks Later." But "Hostel Part II" is a great, great movie. Some say it's better than the first but the first was the first -- if you didn't know the story in advance the mystery unfolded in a way that was really amazing. This second film definitely shows Roth's absolute courage as a director. He didn't pull any punches with this follow up.