Having scored a surprise box office hit with his 2006 backpacker gorefest 'Hostel' ($46m in the US on a $4.5m budget), director Eli Roth and the film companies wasted little time in getting the follow-up on the big screen.

But the $10m-budgeted 'Hostel: Part II' has tanked in the US, taking $8m in its opening weekend where its predecessor took over $19m.

One reason cited to explain its poor performance has been the leaking of a copy on the internet, but in a perfect world you'd love to think that it was due to good taste on the part of those who saw the first movie.

Beginning with an epilogue involving Paxton (Hernandez), the sole survivor of the three tortured tourists from the original, 'Hostel: Part II' introduces us to an all-female American trio with plans to see as much of Europe as possible while studying in Italy.

Having boarded a train in Rome with the intention of going to Prague, the aloof Beth (Graham), brash Whitney (Phillips) and bookish Lorna (Matrazzo) are persuaded to change their plans by the fellow passenger Axelle (Jordanova) and head for a weekend in Slovakia instead.

While Axelle works as a model, she's also an operative for the Elite Hunting Agency, which finds young travellers, tricks them into coming to a hostel and then auctions them for murder to the highest bidder.

After polarising opinions with 'Hostel' (vile for some, one of the Films of the Year in French newspaper Le Monde!), Roth has decided to go all out with the follow-up, creating an experience that could see sales of mouthwash increase one million fold.

This is even nastier than its predecessor; it's also even less interesting and so thrown together that you're watching nothing more than a series of sadistic scenes barely attached to a plot.

Much has already been made about what Roth has put onscreen, and whether it revels in degradation, but more brickbats also need to be aimed his way for his inability to pace a film, his hamfisted attempts at characterisation, how lost he is without a bucket of blood and how he can manage to make a horror with absolutely no tension from start to finish.

While some, Roth included, sought to justify 'Hostel' by saying it had a political subtext about American Imperialism and the Iraq War, the fact that the film was so unpleasant only lessened the power of that argument. A variation on such guff will of course get spouted about the sequel, but there can be no justification for some of what's onscreen here.

Just as no-one was in the queue the first time because of their revulsion at Abu Ghraib, no-one will be now. And in a perfect world no-one should think so little of themselves that they'd pay to see this.

Harry Guerin