So Hostel II‘s got another poster out (see a larger version here). And this one got to me. Not in the way naked beheaded lady tried to both titillate and disturb you, or even the way adiposed meat tested the gag reflex of vegetarians everywhere. No, this one’s relatively benign– but its subtle implication is what’s most disturbing.
After having seen the trailer (which I was along for the ride with until the last few seconds), the image holds an extremely uncomfortable context and is why I’ve checked out on Hostel II. As distasteful (and creepy as hell) as I find the movie’s "sell", the art they’re putting out is incredibly powerful. Whether that’s a good thing depends on which side of the fence you’re on and I’m kind of pissed I’m falling into what’s sure to be a bandwagon camp full of people I think are knee jerk reactionists. Up to now, I’ve been impartial, but this simple image has me slipping toward "not a good thing". The poster portrays a victim. She’s naked. She’s helpless. She’s crying. I can’t stomach that. Not when I perceive it as holding no value other than the tantalization of an exhibition of human destruction.
What seems ironic is the big fat crapfest everyone took on the People Under the Stairs rip-off Chaos (which tried to justify its meanness through serving as a "warning"–Bullshit, I say), yet mainstream Hostel seems to have slipped through. Is that because amidst the grue there was a dose of subtle messaging? Or was it because pain was being inflicted on a bunch of dudes who happened to be obnoxious assholes? I’m leaning toward the latter.
I’m not attempting to make this a treatise on gender, but seeing an asshole being drilled, while uncomfortable, pales to the sympathy and sadness I felt at the last pleading few seconds watching even the full trailer. I can’t justify watching helpless, terrified young women being hurt and maimed for entertainment while trying to sift through the violence (of which the film is being marketed on its violence, not context) for some meaning, regardless of how naughty they may have been.
There’s been a lot of dialogue recently about the whole "Torture Porn" genre thanks to Captivity, etc. Whedon’s weighed in on it. Darabont’s weighed in on it. CHUD’s weighed in on it. I’ll never go to the point of saying "don’t make these movies" or "you’re sick" for enjoying it– enjoy away. Personally (which probably isn’t what you were asking for when you clicked to see the poster), I’m just struggling to find any good this material does for its audience.