Hannibal Rising (2007)

Directed by Peter Webber [Other horror films: N/A]

While this isn’t really a horror movie, it’s in a series I generally consider horror, so I’ll just throw this one in, which is unfortunate, as I had to watch this pile of trash.

I’m not exactly sure what my biggest problem with this was. Partially, I suspect, my disdain is due to the fact that an origin story was entirely unnecessary. What doesn’t help is the fact that I couldn’t even once see this character as Hannibal Lecter. So he accidentally eats his sister, and then decides to be a cannibal? Oh, and a samurai? Love it.

To be fair, this movie had a decent kill every now and again. One was even actually good, and potentially memorable. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for any of the characters (be it the generic serial killer lead or the pointless detective on his trail) or the movie as a whole.

Gaspard Ulliel didn’t once remind me of Lecter, but I guess he was fine. Dominic West (The Wire) was pointless. I didn’t like Li Gong’s character whatsoever. And no one else was particularly memorable or good either.

A few good kills doesn’t make a movie good, especially when the movie is otherwise entirely generic and unnecessary. Truthfully, this was a struggle to get through, and I’d easily take Red Dragon or Hannibal twenty times over as opposed to ever having to watch this piece of trash again. I legitimately didn’t enjoy this. I did not have a good time. I was displeased.

3/10

Hostel: Part II (2007)

Hostel

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel (2005), The Green Inferno (2013), Knock Knock (2015)]

Looking a bit deeper into the business aspect of the torture industry, the second Hostel feels a bit more solid than the first, and doesn’t skimp out of any of the gore or brutality.

Picking up with Paxton’s life after his escape at the end of the first movie was an interesting beginning. I didn’t love the first sequence, but I found it acceptable, given the circumstances. After that’s dealt with, we dive into two plots: some young women decide to go to Slovakia to experience the hot spas, and two businessmen depart to Slovakia to torture and kill them. It’s sort of interesting to get dual perspectives on this, and I thought it generally paid off.

In part, I suspect, because most of the main characters were done pretty well. Lauren German wasn’t my favorite character, but as the main girl, she had guts. Heather Matarazzo, playing a geeky acquaintance of German’s, did well as the sweet, quiet girl with a rather depressing and brutal end. Richard Burgi and Roger Bart, who played the two businessmen, worked well together, and while obviously both were atrocious individuals, I thought both of them did a great job with their characters. The only main character I didn’t care for was played by Vera Jordanova – I didn’t like her character, and while she was a fine actress, I just felt sort of blah about the whole thing. Lastly, famous Italian horror director Ruggero Deodato had a fantastic cameo toward the end.

There are plenty of brutal scenes throughout the film. Occasionally some creepy ones pop up also. Insofar as gore, we get a pretty devastating bathing in blood scene, and you can’t help but feel bad as the individual in question is slowly cut open with a scythe. Someone gets their, shall we say, equipment, clipped off, which was done well. Another gets torn apart by dogs. Overall, the gore was strong. As for more subtly unsettling scenes, there’s a sequence where German wakes up in a misty hot spa, utterly devoid of others, which was filmed well. That leads into a chase scene that just sort of didn’t lead anywhere, but the spa scene alone was pretty good.

Hostel: Part II takes the best elements of the first movie and expands on them. I’d have liked some more background on the origins of the business itself, but still, it was okay. The bidding sequence early on was fun enough, I suppose, to cover up any lost potential in exploring the business deeper. The gore was top-notch, and plenty of scenes were decently suspenseful. I liked the first Hostel, and the second holds up also, and thus, I’d recommend it.

8/10

Hostel (2005)

Hostel

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel: Part II (2007), The Green Inferno (2013), Knock Knock (2015)]

Each time I see this film, I continue to be impressed. The story is not necessarily overly creative, but it is well crafted (especially the switch half-way through the movie, in which we end up with an unexpected protagonist). The gore is a pretty decent touch also. Not only that, but the movie has a pretty satisfying ending, which is rather unexpected from a movie that is as grimy as this one.

Paxton’s not a character that I overly enjoy for most of the film, but his depth does grow as the story goes on, and by the end, you’d be hard-pressed to not be rooting for him. Insofar as the torture aspect, it’s pretty solid. Not overdone, either. While it’s definitely shocking the first time around, this movie doesn’t drown itself in unnecessary gore, which I applaud it for. There are downsides present, but truth be told, I don’t believe there are all that many. Only thing that comes to mind right now is that I wish some of the characters had a slower death than they did. Alas, we can’t always get what we want. The ending makes up for that, though.

7.5/10