Hostel: Part II Blu-ray Review
PictureHostel 2 is presented on Blu-ray with a fairly broad 2.35:1 aspect ratio widescreen transfer in 1080p High Definition. The gory detail is pretty good, with clarity and no noticeable softness, or grain, as you would only expect from a High Def release of such a recent production. That said, the payoff for no softness appears to be a little edge enhancement, unfortunately. Shot with a bigger budget than the original, fairly cheap-looking instalment, this certainly looks more glossy and stylish, although the skin tones are a bit too tanned (i.e. orangy) to look real. The rest of the colour scheme varies depending on the location, with some glorious sunny sequences, some more colour-limited sequences (used to particularly good effect during the hot springs scenes) and then there are the suitably dastardly dungeon-like torture room sets, which look appropriately grim. Considering the prevalence of dark scenes with lots of shadowing, blacks could have been a bit more stable and solid, but overall it is a decent if unexceptional rendition.
SoundTo accompany the movie on this High Definition release, we get a superior Uncompressed PCM 5.1 mix that hits all the right spots. The dialogue comes across crisply, clearly and coherently across the frontal array - from the laughing and joking around right up until the screaming (which is seems, admittedly, quite authentic, and adds more than a little to the disturbing visuals). The effects are generally in terms of cutting noises, slices, whirring chainsaws and circular saws and the like - and in fact, this spliced in with the screams can be quite oppressive presented across the surrounds, even without the onscreen visuals. The score is slightly more thematic than with the first instalment, and never intrudes upon the rest of the soundtrack but also never stands out. Overall it's a very good presentation for the material.
ExtrasThe first movie came laden with Extras, and was perhaps even excessive, with no less than four Commentary tracks, which is at least 2 more than most fans would even consider enduring. With the sequel we still get too many Audio Commentaries - three in total - as before, one with the Director Eli Roth, one with him and the producers (including Tarantino himself) and one with him and the fairly unknown cast. Roth is typically eccentric (if he hadn't made so much money off the franchise, I'd say he was crazy), spouting forth about the deep and hidden meanings within his works of art and releasing his full fury against anyone who might dare to disagree. Well, sorry, no this is not art. And the track is only worth listening to for laughing at the deeply, deeply delusional Mr. Roth. Tarantino's input in the second track is no better, with him singing Roth's praises non-stop, with that typical fast-talking Tarantino-speak which sounds so convincing yet has absolutely no truth behind it. Vapid. The cast track seems at least a bit more fun and normal, with several of the main players discussing and dissecting the production and generally preventing Roth from behaving too eccentrically. Massive commentary overkill.
Hostel Part II: The Next Level is a Behind the Scenes Featurette which is really quite a nice little video-diary-style look at the production, lasting nearly half an hour and eschewing the normal practice of padding these Making-of Documentaries out with promotional fluff. We hear from mostly crew members about the stages in creating this flick, from pre- to post-production, with a good, if not comprehensive, fill of all that goes in between. The Special Effects Featurette (the Art of KNB Effects) takes a more gory look at the key horror sequences that required effects in the movie, from the headless corpses to the corpse-less heads, with the first torture slash and the final 'twist covered' more than the rest in its brief 6-minute runtime. There's also a 23-minute A Legacy of Torture Featurette which has Roth and his psychologist dad chatting about the concepts in the movie, interspliced with far too much final film footage and promotional bumf, generally making this more like an extended trailer/promotional featurette than a substantial psycho-analytical discussion. The Production Design Featurette takes a minute longer to discuss the sets created (the dungeon is the same as in Hostel - or indiscernibly different) and there's also 'The Treatment', a 26-minute Radio Interview conducted with Roth. Once again he's pretty delusional (did nobody actually notice this when this was broadcast), particularly about how groundbreaking and original his work and ideas are, and the many levels that they work on. I can only see one level, and that's sub-basement. Still, this is probably worth a laugh if you liked the unintentional hilarity of his Commentary.
The Blood and Guts Blooper Reel is disappointing, lasting 6 minutes and getting little more than a chuckle out of me and there are also some 10 Deleted Scenes, roughly a minute each. Presented in High Definition (unlike some of the other Featurettes) at least they look good, and they do attempt to build up the characters a bit more. There are one or two which would certainly have made it a more solid film, even if only marginally better (the scenes that effectively round off the previous movie should have been left in their entirety) and fans are likely to want to check them out. There's also an interesting Surveillance Camera option (exclusive to Blu-ray) which allows you to check out what's going on over 8 different cameras, with footage of corridors, torture cells, waiting rooms, changing rooms and so forth. Whilst not quite as good as having more Deleted Scenes, it's an innovative way of presenting you with alternate angles and a couple of nice extra moments.
Finally there are Trailers for Spiderman 3, Vacancy and Wind Chill, but nothing for the main feature itself.
VerdictHostel: Part II is another tough watch from the sick mind of Eli Roth, pretentiously flaunting itself as a critique on society (and, in particular, prostitution) when it really is just an excuse to watch people endure serious pain. Oddly, it's not quite as painful to endure as the first part (which may actually disappoint those gore-fans who liked Hostel) other than in the fact that, as a movie, it had nothing noteworthy going for it whatsoever. This is a torture-porn movie which does not even deserve to be in the genre, and without even that, or anything discernable to elevate it beyond the genre, it has very little else to offer, disappointing all-round as a horror, thriller or social commentary. The disc itself is decent if unexceptional, with ok video, superior audio and a mixed bag of extras, some of which are unintentionally hilarious (like Roth's three deluded commentaries and radio interview), which makes this a must-have only if you are a die-hard fan of this movie. Anybody else should seriously consider whether there is anything else they would rather do with their time.
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