June 10, 2007|I pretty much disagree with most of what Eli Roth has to say about Hostel Part II. An unabashed fan of his work for its delicate balancing act of depravity, deathly-black humour, and loving homage, I found his latest film an exciting self-reflexive exercise--a casual question mark thrown at moviegoers who would knowingly pay to see graphic depictions of torture. But the man himself insists that his primary goal lies in pleasing the audience with his specialized brand of perversion--and if, in explaining his technique, he comes across as abrasive, self-important, and longwinded, it's because he's got a lot of set ideas about what his films are saying and at whom they're targeted; furthermore, he's unafraid to expound on those ideas in excruciating detail. And yet, his aversion to accepted subtext--as well as his somewhat wishy-washy consideration of critical reaction--neatly encapsulates one of the most admirable aspects of Hostel Part II, i.e., how its finest (read: grisliest) moments at once point to something bubbling under the surface and somehow thwart a deeper reading of the Guignol thrills. Roth certainly lays a great deal of his personality and excitement for cinema on the table for all to see, but still I wonder what he's keeping hidden. I'm reminded of how his mentor David Lynch deadpanned a challenge to viewers to find the "correct" interpretation of Eraserhead.