Eli Roth and Bijou Phillips interview
Hostel: Part II writer-director Eli Roth wants you to know that if Hostel scared you or creeped you out, you’d better brace yourself for the second installment. He says, “I really think this is a better, scarier, smarter film. I think that people that were fans of the first one are gonna love it and I think that even if people didn’t see the first one, they can see this one and it will still make sense. No matter what kind of horrifying thing it is that I come up with, the horrifying thing is the actor in the chair and these guys did such an amazing job. I think people will be genuinely scared. I wanted to build the scariest roller coaster in the park. I wanted people to feel that adrenaline rush like they’re on this scary, fun ride.” Roth, 35, and his star, Bijou Phillips, 27, sat down to discuss the latest torture flick, which follows three American females traveling in Rome that get lured into a dark world of captivity and torture in Slovakia, and the director kept talking about how impressed he was with Phillips. He says of her performance, “People have no idea the range she has. People might know her from music or movies, but they’ve never seen her like this.”
Here’s more from Roth and Phillips, in an exclusive interview by Paul Salfen:
Your other fan favorite film, Cabin Fever, now has a sequel. What made you choose a Hostel sequel as opposed to that one?
ELI: You know, Cabin Fever was a film that I wrote when I was 22 years old and by the time it was released I was 30 or 31, so it was an eight and a half year journey that it had been with me and my whole life had been about making that movie. At the end, though, everybody dies and that’s it. I couldn’t do Cabin Fever 2. I felt I had more stories to tell. That was my life when I was 22 and Hostel was where I was at when I was 32. We made Hostel for $4 million and it made $20 million and it was such a shock to everyone. I watched it with audiences around the world and really seeing what people were responding to and I left there was a lot more to explore – a lot more I wanted to talk about, I thought , “If I want to do this, I have to do it right now. I can’t wait. There’s an expiration date on this.” I couldn’t do this in five years. There are a lot of things in this world that disturb me and it was tied into a lot of the killings, specifically the people tied into the killing that made me want to do it. I wanted to make a sequel like Aliens to where I would challenge myself to make something that would blow away the first one.
How did you make sure this one was fresh, though?
ELI: How do you give people what they want without repeating the same story? I looked at sequels that failed like Exorcist II and sequels that worked like Saw II. It has to go deeper into the world – where does the story go? I’m not trying to top the eye thing (a bloody eye-dangling scene from Hostel). What do you see next? I started thinking about young girls and how they would get lured here and the clients – how do they buy their victims? The scene that disturbed everyone was the thought of what does it feel like to kill somebody? I wanted to see how girls would react, what they would do and follow the different story lines that converge in these different story lines. In the first the women were the sex objects where the men are making fun of the hookers and then they become the hookers and I wanted these girls to be stronger and smarter. The girls in Hostel: Part II have to be much smarter than they guys were. I didn’t want them making stupid decisions, I didn’t want them falling into traps. I think that if I could write it to where the hot girls were smart and making good decisions it would be effective and terrifying.
The film is obviously a very serious movie. Did you try to keep it pretty lighthearted on set to balance it out?
BIJOU: Pretty much every day on the set was funny. Eli is amazing with voices and jokes. He’ll show up in your trailer with a different personality than his own. Eli was able to swing with the punches and knock us over. We’d be dying laughing the whole time.
ELI: I like to have fun. When there’s a scene where there’s screaming and crying there’s that temptation to crack a joke, but I just want everyone to feel comfortable and safe. We’re serious about our work but we want to have a really fun time when we do it and we try a lot of things out in rehearsal, so it allows people to go into that dark place because they feel safe and protected and comfortable with the people around them. You want them to be in the moment – the worst thing that could happen is that before the scene you hear [sigh]. We’re all there thinking about the scene, not lunch. I think the only way you can get to that point is to have fun the rest of the time.
There have been recent news items and articles that blame violent behavior on violent films and in one particular case, Hostel. How do you feel when you hear about things like that?
ELI: Well, I think that throughout history when you make a violent film like Taxi Driver or even Rebel Without A Cause, there’s always people complaining and upset. I say that this film shows human nature in a very primal state and people have been like that since the beginning of time – way before movies. No matter what’s going on in the climate of the world if you’re making a film like this, there’s always someone who’s going to come after you.
BIJOU: Also, if you look at the correlation between films and the wars going on during that time, tons of horror movies came out right after that and that’s a reflection of society. They want to see that and get it out of their system and they can’t in public. They have to go to work, deal with their kids or whatever and like the honor killing that just happened you see all of this horrible stuff that’s going on in the news and I think there’s definitely that need.
ELI: I get messages on MySpace all the time from soldiers in Iraq and they tell me how popular Hostel is on the military bases and how terrified they are of this movie and I wrote back to one soldier and said, “How could this possibly scare you? You know it’s fake, you’re watching a DVD and you’re out there seeing real violence?” And the soldier told me he saw a guy with his face blown off and he came back and couldn’t watch the movie. They have to be machines out there. They can’t show emotion, so Hostel is the only place where they can scream and get it out as a military person and that’s why they love it. They do provide a very therapeutic way for people who deal with a lot of violence. I think people that see horror movies are often seen by people who don’t want to see real-life violence as well. Nobody wants to take responsibility.
BIJOU: It’s the same thing with music. You can hear something and say, “Yes! That’s how I feel.” And maybe it’s something that you’re going through and you can’t verbalize it yourself and the music makes you feel better in a way.
So will there be a Hostel: Part III?
ELI: As of right now, no. I didn’t think there would be a part two, though. I feel like the story ended – there’s part one and part two. I’d rather have no part three than a bad part three. Never say never, though.
HOSTEL: PART II REVIEW
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