The premise of Hostel: Part II is that life isn't cheap -- it's worth at least as much as a luxury vacation or a new sailboat. Early on, the film introduces us to two American men, both late 30s to early 40s with the look of wealthy dot.com entrepreneurs, and reveals that they are both clients of the sinister network we learned about in the first Hostel. That is to say, along with other successful sociopaths, they take part in secret online auctions where the prize is a captured holidaymaker that they can torture to death at a private facility in Slovakia. Once the credit card clears -- I wonder what it says on the billing statement? -- the client is invited to come to the facility and experience the thrill of unleashing their inner sadist on an innocent. Much like a brothel might try to sell you sex toys while you're there, the Hostel facility is fully stocked with a large array of torture instruments to choose from. You can imagine Aaron Eckhart's character from In the Company of Men loving this place.
The victims this time around are Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and Lorna (harlequin-faced actress Heather Matarazzo) all of them riding around on a Eurail pass for one reason or another. Although director Eli Roth is mature enough not to clog up the early portions of the film with pointless 'boo' moments, he does give us enough reaction shots from creepy-looking Europeans on the train and around the town square to make it seem like all of Slovakia is in on the scheme to capture these American babes and pack them off to the slaughterhouse. By the time they are finally betrayed by the one person who was nice to them -- a Slovak beauty played by Vera Jordanova -- it's hardly a surprise. Still, the early scenes of Hostel: Part II are sufficiently atmospheric and tense, and there's never a question that you're in the hands of a capable director. Even the slobbering gore-hounds in the first row should be entertained enough during the lengthy set-up to not be checking their watches.