Home > Reviews > HOSTEL PART II – Nathan Barr

HOSTEL PART II – Nathan Barr

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have never fully appreciated, nor understood, the general public’s lust for the new ‘torture porn’ genre of films. I saw the first Saw, but none of its sequels. I saw Cabin Fever, and thoroughly disliked it. I have not seen any of the Hostel movies, and have no intention of doing so. Nevertheless, the box office takings don’t lie, so here we have Hostel Part II, directed by Eli Roth, and starring Lauren German, Bijou Phillips and Heather Matarazzo as three young women who, over the course of 93 minutes, are systematically bound, gagged, tortured, murdered and mutilated by a succession of sick individuals who pay good money to Slovakian criminals to enable them to do this kind of thing. Wholesome fun for all the family.

Composer Nathan Barr returns to the franchise after undertaking scoring duties on the first movie. Unexpectedly, the opening suite – “Amid a Crowd of Stars” – is a quite beautiful eastern European neo-classical lament anchored by a tragic-sounding combination of solo violin, solo oboe and harp which gradually swells to encompass the entire orchestra in a sweeping theme. It’s a mesmerizing, completely astonishing beginning, and sets the tone for the rest of the score, which continues to inhabit the orchestral realm and oscillate between excellent action/horror writing and moments of surprisingly sublime beauty.

Cues such as “Beautiful Skin”, “Bidding War”, the grotesquely mesmerizing “The Bath” and the exciting “Turning Tables” are distinctly Herrmannish in tone, with their skittery strings, whooping brasses and frenetic pacing. “Paxton Meets Sasha” goes for shock value with boo-gotcha stingers jumping out of beds of ominous, bass-heavy violin and cello writing. “Portrait” and “Elevator” go for the jugular with chaotic dissonance and immensely powerful and threatening piano chords which resonate in the deepest recesses of your stomach.

“Montage” incorporates sinister and ghostly-sounding vocal effects. The beginning of “Stuart” sounds like something Krzysztof Penderecki might write in his darker moments. It’s all quite superbly imaginative stuff, and really showcases Barr’s talent for creating unnerving moods. One thing worth mentioning also is the almost total absence of any obvious ‘electronic enhancements’ in Barr’s score. The confidence he shows in writing simple, clean orchestral music is to be commended in this day and age.

It’s perhaps indicative of my own cinematic prejudices, but I find myself rather disappointed that music this excellent was written for a film this unpleasant – but irrespective of one’s feelings about the film itself, Nathan Barr’s score is a perfect example of modern, lyrical, orchestral horror movie music at its best.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Suite – “Amid a Crowd of Stars” (6:33)
  • Beautiful Skin (2:22)
  • Train (1:45)
  • Paxton Meets Sasha (2:09)
  • Bidding War (2:44)
  • Portrait (2:16)
  • Montage (3:08)
  • The Kiss (0:55)
  • Stuart (2:26)
  • Boat Ride (1:37)
  • The Bath (3:39)
  • Elevator (1:54)
  • Escape (2:27)
  • Todd (2:14)
  • Turning Tables (3:57)
  • Snip (1:16)
  • Axelle (0:40)

Running Time: 42 minutes 02 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6831 (2007)

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