Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hostel Part III

(2011) ***1/2





When it was announced that a direct-to-video third installment in the Hostel series was in the works, I quietly mourned the loss of a beloved franchise. Eli Roth was not involved and the eastern European setting that fueled the sense of hopelessness and despair in Parts 1 and 2 was relocated to Las Vegas of all places. But far from nail in the coffin that I predicted, Hostel Part III overcomes its meager budget and breathes new life into a series that appeared to have run out of steam. 

The premise is almost too familiar. Whisked away to Vegas for his bachelor party, Scott and his three buddies are baited by their hedonism into a world of torture, for the sole purpose of entertaining members of the sick-minded Elite Hunting Club (EHC). Like the other films, the victims are bound, tormented and murdered in sadistic ways. What distinguishes Part III is the audience of extremely wealthy "gentlemen" perched above to watch the action. While the first victim finds himself on the receiving end of an unwanted face removal, the EHC leisurely sip cocktails served by topless hostesses and place bets on how long he has left to live. Las Vegas proves to be an ideal backdrop for such wicked excess. What better symbol for moral bankruptcy than a city that revels in its own debauchery? If the original Hostel made you scared to leave the country then Hostel III might nudge you one step closer to complete agoraphobia.  

"What happens in Vegas... is just plain disgraceful." 
The lean $6 million dollar budget does cause problems. The gore is significantly less graphic than its predecessors and the kill scenes that viewers have come to expect (and dread) are executed in a clumsier and less artistic manner. The impact of what could have been one truly vomit inducing sequence involving bugs is ruined by noticeable CGI. (On the other hand, perhaps that's for the best.) 

However, all of the above mentioned weaknesses are redeemed by good acting, solid chemistry between the characters and a cunning script. Director Scott Spiegel (who co-wrote the screenplay for Evil Dead II and produced the first two Hostel films) deviates from the template with several unexpected twists that tie together in an explosive grand finale. Recommended for fans of the others. 

7 comments:

Catfreeek said...

Jeez Johnny, that's the second time we posted simultaneously. Get outta my head!

Okay, reading your review now.

Catfreeek said...

Nice review, I had little faith in this straight to video release as well, glad to hear it still has some balls.

Hey DCD I haven't seen this one...yet.

DCD said...

Haha, Cat, I'm sure you'll fix that soon! Although I'm sure I'll never see this, it interests me that breaking the mold a bit worked enough to get a 3.5 from JSP.

AC said...

sounds a pleasant surprise, those can be few and far between in october.

Octopunk said...

Ugh, another Hostel movie!

There's something about the first one that still creeps me out; the second one wasn't nearly as bad but the anticipation was awful.

JPX said...

I agree with your review completely. I had low expectations for this direct-to-DVD sequel but was plesantly surprised to find a fairly solid effort. Nice review.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Octo, I hear what you're sayin' but you rated Hostel I & II pretty highly and now you seem to feel disgust about the franchise. I would love to hear your thoughts on Hostel III, for better or worse.