Review: Hostel Part III (18) / Director: Scott Spiegel / Screenplay: Michael D. Weiss / Starring: Kip Pardue, Brian Hallisay, John Hensley, Sarah Habel, Chris Coy, Skyler Stone / Release date: January 23rd
The first Hostel film was a solid hit when it was released in 2006, but along with Saw it was unfortunately labelled ‘torture porn’ and kicked off a wave of imitators.
Once you get past the initial lurid shock of it all, the film is a genuinely suspenseful and exciting piece that taps into the fear and paranoia of post 9/11. The sequel was half a very good film, director Eli Roth decided to focus on the rich bored men who use the services of Elite Hunting to get a high they have never experienced. Of course telling it from this perspective is a risky proposition so the other half of the film is a re-tread of the first movie with females instead of horny young males. The second movie flopped on release and Roth has not directed a movie since. It was perhaps inevitable that we would get a third film at some point, and perhaps even more predictably the film has gone straight to Blu-ray and DVD. What may shock you about this film is that whilst it’s no masterpiece, it’s certainly a lot more fun than you would think.
Our story begins with a neat reversal of the formula of the first movie where a Ukrainian couple is kidnapped by a shifty looking young American who drugs them. We then find ourselves in the company of soon to be married Scott (Brian Hallisay) and his best man Carter (Kip Pardue) who are on a trip to Las Vegas along with two other friends, Mike and Justin. Carter has an elaborate scheme planned where the four of them will be whisked off the strip and into an abandoned warehouse/club full of hookers so that Scott can have one final night of hedonism before marriage. Turns out that the Elite Hunting organisation from the previous films has moved their operation to Las Vegas, preying on the inhabitants of the dodgy venues found outside of the bright lights and glamour of the main strip. Mike ends up disappearing along with his date for the night and the others search for him. This leads them into all the death and mayhem that Elite Hunting specialises in.
One of the neat things about Hostel Part III is that probably due to budgetary reasons, they vary up the formula so that it feels different but is still recognisably a film in the franchise. Here the torture is not fetishised with long drawn out torture scenes, but are no less nasty. The violence that occurs is quick and desperate and usually very brutal as people fight to survive. The means in which the Elite Hunting operate has also been changed up so that the death takes place in a theatre like setting with the rich folk looking on and betting on things like, how many arrows from a crossbow will be used before death and how long it will be before a victim uses his family to beg for his life. It’s nasty stuff and hardly a positive portrait of the super-rich, but it works.
Director Scott Spiegel co-wrote Evil Dead 2 so he knows how to spin a good spooky yarn. Problem is he has never been that gifted when it comes to the visuals. If you have seen From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money then you know what I’m talking about. Hostel Part III definitely looks every inch the low budget production that it is and at some points feels like a made for TV film. It loses the production value of the first two films which actually shot in Europe and really captured what it feels like to be in a strange country where nobody speaks your language. Without a huge budget you don’t get the filming on the real Las Vegas locations that a higher budget film might allow and much of this feels very sound stage bound. Luckily Spiegel provides some pleasingly surreal moments such as the woman murderer clad in a bizarre leather/alien outfit that kills one of the victims with a crossbow and also a death by cockroach ingestion.
The only face you may recognise from previous films is Kip Pardue as the slimy best man Carter. Pardue’s natural arrogance works well for him here like they did in Roger Avary’s underrated The Rules of Attraction. He may never be a major star but he will have a long career playing rich creeps. The rest of the cast are adequate; they’re good looking enough and do a solid job of conveying terror but you are never going to shed a tear when one of them buys it.
Hostel Part III is a hell of a lot of fun. It has some major plot holes and lapses in logic in the final act but keeps you on your toes and isn’t the exercise in straight to DVD grot that I feared it would be. As a solid, late night, post pub watch it definitely does what it sets out to do and that is more than you can expect from most of the rubbish that ends up going straight to home video these days.
Extras: Commentary with Scott Spiegel and Kip Pardue.