So I saw it last night and I have some thoughts.
After seeing it, I thought that watching a horror movie could very much be described as "torture." You walk into the theater knowing bad things are going to happen. Scary things. Things are going to jump out at you but you don't know when or where. You will be tense. You will cower. You will hide your eyes. That's horror. Eli Roth has taken that in a literal sense and he has shown us torture and thought it to be horror. But such is a mistake of a young director. One of many that he makes in this film.
There has been much made about Hostel Part II on this blog as well as many others about the subject matter of this film. Having seen it now, it ain't that bad. But that's to say that torture isn't bad and I'm not saying that. The scenes set up are disturbing and I understand that. But as far as the graphic nature of this film, it isn't terrible. And honestly, there isn't much torture involved. I agree with Dennis at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, that the torture of Hostel Part II pales in comparison to the likes of Takashi Miike's Audition. And honestly, the movie Hard Candy is a much better example of a movie that deals with the subject of torture. So really, Eli Roth has failed in making a torture movie that truly deals with torture.
Which leads me to believe that Eli does need the rest of the summer off as he stated on his MySpace page. He should take a breather, gather his thoughts and figure out his place in horror because he really isn't a bad director. Maybe just a bit misguided. I think of the Thanksgiving trailer he did for Grindhouse. This was Roth having fun and it was impossible not to have fun watching it. There you can see that Eli's heart lies with the 80's slasher movies and it is from there that he draws his inspiration. The characters in Hostel Part II follow very much the cliched lines of those movies. You have the slut in Bijou Phillips, the Sandra Dee character in Heather Matarazzo and the big sister in Lauren German. There is no more depth to them past that. Richard Burgi and Roger Bart play the rich business men and top bidders in the torture market. Richard is gung-ho about the possibility of torturing a young beautiful woman and takes delight in the idea. Roger is hesitant from the get-go. But when it comes time to the actual torturing, Richard bags out and Roger turns out to be the truly twisted one. Jeez, who saw that one coming? It doesn't make sense to address material that seems so real, that being of a hostel that's actually a torture palace, with such cliched characters. But maybe that's a blessing.
Probably the most disturbing thing I discovered in watching Hostel Part II is this: A scythe dragging across skin makes me cringe and cover my eyes. However, I have no reaction to someone getting their head chopped off. Disturbing indeed.