Review in a Hurry: Eli Roth's quickie followup to last year's grim slasher hit goes straight back to the well. This is passable entertainment for gorehounds, but between the sluggish pacing and abrupt climax, it's a graduation-trip-from-hell flick that will have you doing the sophomore slump in your seat.
The Bigger Picture: It's awfully hard to unring a bell, even harder when you gonged it as loudly as did Roth's original Hostel, a nasty chiller about backpackers who stumble into a Slovakian town where life is cheap and murder is the main commodity.
Hostel the first had just the right mix of antiquated sleaze and unsentimental brutality. Like it or not, its about as articulate, tense and cathartic as a film about a murder factory could be. Which is a roundabout way of saying that Hostel: Part II is none of those things, finding its best moments in echoes of its predecessor.
Too bad, as the distaff trio headed for disaster here is mostly more interesting than the original's amiable, lunkheaded lambs. Given Roth's brief setup—expanding the backstory of the shadowy organization that runs the titular hostel—there's more dramatic potential, too.
But what ends up on screen is mildly tense, occasionally disturbing schlock that never raises the stakes. The real surprise of Hostel: Part II is how few surprises it has to offer—that, and how quickly it comes to an ending.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Granted, even slightly muddled Roth is better than 90 percent of the pasteurized horror product out there. And you can be glad knowing that he made this instead of Thanksgiving, the hideously profane (and thankfully nonexistent) slasher film previewed in Grindhouse, which was simply too sick for words. "Not too sick for words," now there's a ringing endorsement.