When Eli Roth’s Hostel hit cinemas way back in 2006, the horror industry took note in a way that would, in the opinions of many a purist, damn the mainstream for some time. Due to the juggernaut success of the then-fresh Saw series, Hostel’s box office boom cemented the so-called torture porn subgenre as a viable, financially sound investment for theatrical releases.
What followed was mostly uninspired cash-ins like The Collector and Captivity before audiences grew tired of dark lighting and disembowelments. The real shame in all this is that perhaps the subgenre’s best film—Hostel: Part II—was simply made too late. By 2007, everyone from George Romero to New York Magazine were tired of Saw-ish style, and though Roth’s sequel was smart and satirical, critics and ticketbuyers were simply too tired to give it a chance.
Hostel: Part III is the franchise’s first go-around without Roth onboard. In some ways, this particular threequel debuts (to DVD) with a lot of pressure on its bloody shoulders: can this become a profitable series on premise alone? Is there more to say about people paying for the chance to kill other people, and more importantly, will audiences want to listen?
Or should I just get to the face-peeling already…
Quick Plot: Just like that movie everyone talks about that I haven’t seen The Hangover, a group of good(ish) looking late 20somethings are heading to Vegas for token dull dude Scott’s bachelor party. On board is the wealthy best man Carter, handicapped nice guy Justin, and token obnoxious cretin Mike.
Mike is a gem. Married to a wife he just loves to call fat, with kids who are surely better off by the end of the film for losing their hate-filled daddy, Mike is marked as Victim #1. After a whole lot of false starts, we finally get to see that transformation happen. With a twist.
The smartest thing Hostel: Part III does is play around with its pre-established formula. The earlier films took place in Eastern Europe, a beautiful and, to common American tourists, generally unchartered region where being abducted is hardly out of the question. Moving the action to the recognizable lands of casinos and vice was a risk, but because Michael D. Weiss’ script has a few tricks up its sleeve, the gamble pays off (ba dom bump Vegas pun, amiright?). We recognize the business of Elite Hunting, with a few new Sin City-appropriate touches.
Hostel was a great idea executed with a little too mean execution. Hostel: Part II was a genuinely clever followup where it felt as though Roth was both expanding his universe and fixing what didn’t work about his original (unlikable protagonists, unabashed misogyny, nameless villains). Scott Spiegel’s Hostel: Part III is far lighter in scope and tone, but it’s quite enjoyable as a continuation of the series. Though the characters are a little too forgettable, their plight is filled with surprises, be it false starts, creepy masks, villainous turns, or suffocation by cockroach.
All part of the fun.
The opening scene is both entertaining on its own and a great blueprint for the rest of the film to follow: as the previous films showed, you really never know who to trust when it comes to secret societies. Throughout Hostel: Part III, that’s a theme that constantly gets put into play
I understand that much like the first film, the men on display are supposed to be alpha male wannabe misogynists who lead you to wonder if they get what’s coming to them. That would be fine if all the crass dialogue was restricted to a character like Mike. But why then put such ugly dialogue in everyone’s mouths? The gang sans Mike seems to revel in discovering the prostitutes they paid for live in mobile homes and can thusly be referred to as trailer trash, while a Ukranian prisoner repeatedly screams"f*ggot" while kicking his guard. It leaves an ugly taint on the entire script that makes it hard to say the film isn't, once again, misogynist, racist, sexist, and so on
In Vegas, you have to be missing a full week before the cops care to start looking
No matter what your fiancée may say, when his overgrown frat boy friends whisk him away for a weekend of bachelor fun, yes, yes you should indeed be worried
Airbags are great stabilizers for stabbings
Hostel: Part III is not the surprise gem that its predecessor was, but I think I can safely say I enjoyed it far more than the original. The Vegas setting adds necessary refreshment, bringing with it plenty of new quirks in the every-expanding Elite Hunting empire. If the franchise continues to roam the globe in search of new locales, I’ll be happily queuing it up on Instant Watch for years to come. This isn’t really worth a buy or investment of cash, but it’s a well-made straight-to-DVD horror film that has plenty of fun with itself. Give it a spin.