At about the 47th minute of "Hostel: Part II" Heather Matarazzo is hanging upside down and naked from the high ceiling of a very old dungeon. Her mouth is gagged, but her grunts, cries, and squeals are unmistakable.
A woman enters the room, removes her robe, and slips into the tub, right beneath the younger woman dangling above her. She raises up a scythe and proceeds to draw herself a blood bath. We can see the woman in the tub covered in red. We can see her writhe in ecstasy. We can see that there is no proper way to enjoy Eli Roth's movie, another tale of doomed American tourists captured in Slovakia and fed to international weirdos with a torture fetish and money to burn.
Until Matarazzo's despicable exit, the movie had been watchable -- entertaining, even, thanks in part to the performances of Lauren German and Bijou Phillips, who play prettier, more outgoing girls touring Europe with her. That death sequence, though, forces you to wonder what's on the mind of a writer-director who'd give us such a collection of images. "Hostel Part II" is a movie about sex fantasies that itself is a sex fantasy, no?
Roth appears to like it rough, and the assumption is that we do , too. But where is the pleasure in seeing a buzz saw to the face? Or watching genitals being thrown to a pair of dogs -- even if the man who owned them deserves to be punished? The movie's moral center doesn't hold, which might be the point: Slaughter feels good, whether you're paying to kill or brutalizing your would-be killer.
But this is not an allegory. I, at least, won't drag into this the war or Gitmo or our ongoing fascination with the voyeurism of torture. Roth's aim is simple. He just wants to surpass the bounds of what a movie can show -- what he showed in the first "Hostel" -- and how long the camera can linger over it. The sequel has the male frontal nudity to prove it.
Like too many horror films, "Hostel: Part II" equates guts with glory. Roth might have chutzpah, but, sadly he doesn't have any interest in actually scaring us. The moviemaking is driven only by contempt; he wants to nauseate us into submission.
In this spring's "Grindhouse," Roth demonstrated he had a sense of humor to go with his sense of sadism, producing an extremely extreme fake trailer that appeared between the feature attractions. But it's the one-word title of another "Grindhouse" trailer that seems appropriate for Roth's future adventures in transgression: "Don't."