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Leaving the Multiplex Behind

Movie Review: HOSTEL PART III (2011)

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan on January 3, 2012

Rated R for strong bloody sadistic violence and torture, sexuality/nudity and pervasive language.

Starring: Kip Pardue, Brian Hallisay, John Hensley, Chris Coy

Written by: Michael Weiss

Directed by: Scott Spiegel

Buy Hostel Part III on DVD 

Rent Hostel Part III on Amazon Instant

Hostel Part III marks the series’ first (and probably not last) foray into the straight to DVD realm and while you can definitely feel the difference in everything from the tone to the violence to the story, there are still some good moments that make it a worthwhile watch. Unless you’re a hardcore Hostel fan, that is. Then you might just end up pissed off.

I am unabashedly a fan of both Hostel and Hostel Part II; released in 2005 and 2007 respectively, Eli Roth not only made two of the more violent and grotesque horror films in recent memory but he also used the backdrop of Eastern Europe to add in an extra element of terror as he played with the fears that come with being alone in a foreign and unfamiliar country. And now five years later out comes Hostel Part III and not only has Roth not returned, but it has gone direct to DVD, two of the reddest flags one could imagine for the franchise. The transition is definitely felt in all conceivable areas of the movie in some negative ways, but Hostel Part III does manage to drum up a few scares on its own and even bring a refreshing take on the foundation the first two laid out.

Hostel Part III begins with an opening that is so ingenious I don’t want to spoil it, but in short it establishes that we are out of the slums of Slovakia and knee deep in the sin and neon of Las Vegas, Nevada. After that we are introduced to our main character Scott (Brian Hallisay) saying goodbye to his fiancee Amy (Kelly Thiebaud) as he goes off with his best friend Carter (Kip Pardue, who looks like the lovechild of Patrick Wilson and Tucker Max) to a bachelor party weekend in Palm Springs…or so he thinks. Turns out Carter has changed the plan and the two head to Vegas, where they meet up with their other two friends Justin (John Hensley) and Mike (Skyler Stone). After a day of gambling they meet Kendra (Sarah Habel) and Nikki (Zulay Henao), two escorts who bring them to a hip new club. The next day, Mike has gone missing and the other three begin to search to find him. A search that, obviously, leads them right into the hands of the Elite Hunter’s Club, who has adapted to the high stakes world of Sin City by having their clientele bet on certain aspects of the torture instead of administering it themselves.

A lot of Hostel fans, despite what some critics hope, are in it for the gory kills and Hostel Part III does not deliver. There is one, involving a Face/Off -style surgery, that feels like it could have been from the fucked up mind of Roth but otherwise what we have here is pretty tame. Instead the kills are pretty generic, using arrows and bugs instead of grinding people up. It picks up a bit later, but the loss of the brutality is jarring and will be a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

With a new director and a smaller budget, it’s also not surprising that Hostel Part III looks and feels completely different. Its low budget leads to some spotty CGI, sparse environments, and lack of anything interesting on a visual level (except for titties, lots and lots of titties). The tone itself also seems to have shifted; while the first two were dark and took themselves seriously enough to make everything unsettling, Hostel Part III takes a more “cheesy horror” approach and the impact that the first two made is completely lost. And very missed. The acting is also very spotty; while the lead guys do a good job (Pardue is especially great at being a douchebag), others drop the ball loudly and painfully. Chris Coy, who plays the main villain Travis, plays the role with a general detachment from the proceedings but it’s a bit too much so instead of being creepy he comes off as just plain bored. Habel and Henao aren’t that great either, but their parts are small enough to forgive that. The smaller roles, ones without names, are laughable at best and cringe-worthy at worst.

So it’s obvious that Hostel Part III is nothing like the other two movies, and that’s a dealbreaker for most fans. However despite that, I found the movie pretty damn enjoyable flaws and all. Again the opening scene is fantastic and the story itself is pretty damn engaging. Having the EHC bet on the torture rather than partake adds an interesting wrinkle to the mythology of the series. Although it drags a bit while the guys search for their missing friend, it picks up right again in the third act that is insanely tense and leads to some awesome and bloody moments (I may have fist pumped at points). The script continually tries to pull one over on the audience, and when it does work it helps subvert audience expectations and deliver something new to the Hostel series (when it doesn’t…that’s a different story). A particular twist late in the 2nd act is especially powerful and again adds a cool perspective to the proceedings. Put it all together and it’s an entertaining suspense movie with horror elements, as opposed to the pure horror the others were. Again a different feel than the others, but one that does manage to work.

Hostel Part III is nowhere near the quality of Hostel or Hostel Part II in any way: the violence is tone down, the characters are paper thin, and the overall look and tone are such a stark contrast that most hardcore Hostel fans will be turned off within 20 minutes. But there is a decent movie inside of here, filled with exciting moments and a third act escape sequence that is thrilling and ends in a particularly great way (too bad the real ending of the movie sort of craps on that). Hostel Part III has enough interesting elements to make it worth the watch, but at the same time it unfortunately disregards some of the things Hostel fans liked the most about the first two. You’ll either be on board or pray to god that Eli Roth comes back one day.

Grade: C+

Buy Hostel Part III on DVD 

Rent Hostel Part III on Amazon Instant

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One Response to “Movie Review: HOSTEL PART III (2011)”

  1. […] (Arielle Kebbel) and butts heads with hotshot foreign T.A. Lucas Branstromm (Kip Pardue, making his second appearance on this site). The craziness of Paul’s life eventually comes to a head and through these […]

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