MARCH 18, 2012
For whatever reason, Blockbuster has opted not to stock Hostel: Part III, despite the fact that DTV sequels are pretty much a guaranteed moneymaker for places like that (and they carry other DTV sequels like the Wrong Turns and various Dimension “franchises”). And not just the store – they don’t carry it on their online rental site either. So after nearly 3 months (I assumed they were just delayed for some reason) I put it on my Netflix queue and got it 2 days later. Which one of these companies is going bankrupt, again?
Anyway, it wasn’t worth the 3 month personal wait or the nearly five year gap between it and Hostel: Part II. Of course, without the participation of Eli Roth, the deck was stacked against it from the start, but director Scott Spiegel produced the other two films, and the other producers returned, so it seemed that the brand was in good hands. Plus, the budget is reported to be 6 million, which is actually more than the original had to work with, so if nothing else it should be a reasonable followup that delivered the gore and plot twists that the other films provided.
Alas, it did not. Some of the plot twists are inspired, but the main one is completely ridiculous (even for a horror movie) and seemingly goes against the point of the other two films – that the members of the Elite Hunting Club were rich assholes that had no concern for human life and doing this sort of shit because they could get away with it. Here, our main villain has a specific beef with our main hero and has engineered nearly everything that has happened in the film in order to, I shit you not, steal his fiancé. Can’t you just put two in the back of the guy’s head and be done with it?
This nonsense is poorly merged with the film’s best and only (real) new idea: turning the Club’s brand of torture into a Vegas betting attraction. The rich assholes here aren’t the torturers – they sit in a little theater and get served drinks while they bet on what the victim will shout first (like, 3:1 odds on crying about his family). They can also bet on the weapon that will be used, but that seems a bit under-explained – the people doing the torturing/killing aren’t “wild cards” – they’re hired by the Club! Isn’t this a bit of a fix? Couldn’t someone just instruct the killer to use whatever weapon wasn’t bet on (or was the odds-on favorite to minimize payouts)? Nothing bugs me more than a movie setting up an interesting idea (especially in a sequel which could use as many of its own ideas as possible) and not following through on it.
Especially for a Hostel movie as light on gore as this. I do not subscribe to the “the more violence and gore, the better” train of thought by any means, but the Hostel films pushed the envelope for such things (and did so in service of the story, relatively speaking), so it’s a little weird to see a guy get shot by arrows below frame, or hacked up in a very wide shot mostly obscured by shadow. Apart from a face slicing and a guy being run over (a fun idea in context but ruined by lousy CGI), the violence/gore here is borderline PG-13, even in this alleged “unrated” cut. For a DTV sequel this is inexcusable – if anything they should have been trying to TOP the other films to make up for its lower production value (most of “Vegas” is actually Detroit) and total lack of connection to the other films.
That’s the other thing – they betray the idea of putting “Part” in the title, something Eli explained in full when he did Part II. It’s nerdy “who cares” shit, to be sure, but still – it suggests a strong tie to its predecessor, preferably a direct continuation (as Hostel Part II was). Here, the only tie is the idea of the Club as an organization (depicted via the tattoo); none of the previous films’ events or characters are seen or even mentioned. It’s not like Lauren German has a lot going on right now (which is unfortunate; Happy Town forever!) – it would have been interesting to see what her character ended up doing after the events of the last film, even if it was just in a throwaway prologue before diving into this half-assed blend of Hostel and Hangover (yes, part of the plot involves a missing pal after a “wild” bachelor party in Vegas).
However, if you ignore the title (and the fact that the previous films were much more interesting than their critics would have you believe, particularly the underrated sequel), it’s a decent enough survival thriller, I guess. It looks nice, and it has some characters worth rooting for. I particularly liked the Ukrainian dude who is taken early on and spends the entire movie caged up (the Club must have been saving him for a special occasion or something; everyone else gets taken to the torture room seemingly moments after waking up in their cell), as well as Justin, one of the four pals who is burdened with a gimp leg (and a metal crutch that they get a lot of mileage out of both before and after he is kidnapped by Club folk). And the pacing is quite good; one of the guys is in the chamber around the 30 minute mark, and it races from there without ever getting monotonous or repetitive. But that big “reveal”, ugh. I don’t care if the title was “Vegas Vacation 2: Rusty’s Revenge”, any movie with THAT as its big hook is just stupid.
Spiegel and actor Kip Pardue* don’t seem to think so, however. Their commentary (the disc’s only extra) is quite positive and complimentary about the movie. Spiegel frequently bemoans the lack of time he had to shoot certain scenes, and tells an anecdote about Quentin having a whole crew to shoot an insert shot whereas he only had half a day to do inserts for the entire movie, but does so in a mostly “oh well” kind of way, as opposed to trying to make excuses or make us feel bad for him. But it’s mostly just a lot of “this was a real location”, “he/she was great”, “that’s my buddy playing that random bit character” type stuff. Like the movie itself, it’s serviceable but unnecessary.
What say you?
*Yes, same guy who was in Stag Night. Stay away from bachelor party horror, dude.