There is something to be said about the Hostel series in reference to how and when it came out. Before Hostel, there was nothing quite like it in theaters. Sure, there was Saw a year earlier, but it was not the sex comedy of horror films that Hostel encompassed. Eli Roth has a particular style when it comes to directing. He creates these almost light hearted college films that, at some point derail into the land of insanity. I am not a huge Roth fan, but I appreciate what he has done and continues to do, and that is to make entertaining horror films. There didn’t seem to be a need for a sequel to the original Hostel, but Roth kept a storyline together and did alright in that respect. He didn’t want anything to do with the third installment (except maybe grab a check) and so his friend, Scott Spiegal (From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money) was offered the role as director. For obvious budget reasons and the lack of production from Tarantino, Part 3 was slated for a Direct-to-DVD release. After seeing the trailer, I was not impressed and feared the worst for the series. Well, it was not as bad as I originally envisioned, but I did expect the worst.
Scott (Brian Hallisay) is about to get married. His friends decide that they should take him on a golfing trip for a little vacation. After getting into the car with his friend, Scott realizes that they are not going on a golfing trip but instead travelling to Las Vegas where Scott is going receive a bachelor party. The motley crew meets in a casino and proceeds to gamble until they are accosted by two attractive females. The beautiful duo convinces them that there is a party to go to, but it’s off the grid. A night of debauchery ensues and one of the friends goes missing. The remaining guys try to track his whereabouts, only to become involved with the infamous hunting club.
The strengths of the film rely on the story and how it’s presented. The narrative is not complicated and certainly is nothing new, but the pacing is smooth and is easy to watch. The search for the missing friend is interesting and as they get closer to finding him, more elements are introduced that throw you off as to who the “enemy” is. I think I prefer this story over Roth’s narrative, only because it is not as “goofy” or sex comedy-ish compared to, at least, the first film. Spiegal has a way with presentation, where he makes horror films that don’t take themselves quite that seriously; and I think that this third installment benefitted from his direction. The acting, for the most part, is competent and aside from some poor story choices later on, everyone does a great job.
So where does this film go wrong? The last half hour becomes ridiculous as we see the revelation of the “villain” as to why he has kidnapped Scott. It seems contrived and feels as though they didn’t know where to go. I was upset that the last half took a dive because I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing of the first hour. I was on board to give an almost glowing (contextually) review, but some writing choices have prevented me from doing that. The story is not even canon with the original two; the only thing that remains relevant is the hunting club. P.S. – There is only a hostel in the opening credits; this movie probably could have been named something else, if they didn’t use the same organization.
There was veracity to the original films in its presentation of gore. By today’s standards, after seeing A Serbian Film and Hatchet, the predecessors are not that “shocking” anymore. The original films mostly, if not completely, banked on the idea of showing the audience as much graphic violence as possible. They were grimy too and never felt bad about showcasing these dirty rooms with rusty instruments.
This third installment has removed the grime that gave the others a unique look. We are in a Vegas loft where rich people bet on the demise of the individual. The torturer does what he does and the audience has to guess what either his next instrument will be or what the victim will scream. It’s also called “The Wheel of Misfortune”… yep. Everything looks shiny and new, giving a more of a lab-look then a killing floor. I guess my overall qualm is that there is hardly any gore in this Hostel, there are about four “kill” scenes and they involve cutaways and poorly programmed CG. There is some blood, but hardy any gore to speak of and I think it’s imperative for there to be gratuitous violence in a Hostel entry, but that’s just me.
It sounds like I hated the film more than I liked it, but that’s only half true. I enjoyed the first hour, even if it lacked intense violence. There are Hostel elements but it doesn’t FEEL like a Hostel film. The last act is ridiculous and makes for some eye-rolling moments. It’s a watchable film in the most basic of terms and if you’re a fan of Hostel, it’s worth a view. It’s not the film that the series needs but it’s a step in the right direction without Roth. I mean, let’s face it, this movie could’ve have been worse.