Running time: 88 mins
Director: Scott Spiegel
Starring: Brian Hallisay, John Hensley, Kip Pardue, Thomas Kretschmann
The revelation that Scott Spiegel was to take the wheel for the third (and presumably final) instalment in the Hostel franchise brought back a lot of resentment, frustration and wariness. In 1999 Spiegel directed the sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s excellent From Dusk Till Dawn and doing so created probably one of the worst films ever made in From Dusk Till Dawn 2 : Texas Blood Money. The most unbelievable and terrible incarnation to celluloid that simply didn’t know how to construct itself as a film…terrible. So it was with much trepidation and pre-packed disappointment that was brought to Hostel: Part III.
Best-man-to-be Carter (Kip Pardue) whisks groom Scott (Hallisay), Justin (Hensley) and Mike (Skyler Stone) off to
Las Vegas to partake in the ultimate one night of freedom for his friend in . Things, obviously, take a turn for the worse with the presence of one of the Elite Hunting Club’s “outlets”. Sin City
Before another syllable is scribed it has to be said that yes From Dusk Till Dawn : Texas Blood Money was terrible, yes Spiegel's name has been responsible for a lot of entries into the swear jar for the last decade but within a couple of minutes into Hostel: Part III the film genuinely surprised me. It’s understanding of the codes, conventions and expectations established in the first two chapters of the franchise and playing on this instantly makes you sit and take notice that this could be a sequel worth watching in it’s own right.
Kip Pardue (Carter McMullen) gives a real two speed bike performance, likewise Hallisay (Scott) with the real surprises coming out of John Hensley who was so one tone in Teeth yet as Justin he is extremely well rounded character with real moments of humanity and sympathy. Similarly Skyler Stone is hugely enjoyable, though for different reasons, as he offers up the loud and potty mouthed friend that we all have (or maybe we are them). As a fan of 24 it was a real thrill to see Thomas Kretschmann in another sinister and suited performance but unfortunately most of his scenes fall flat due to it being for the purposes of exposition only, though why the film needs exposition is beyond anyone as we all know what it’s able, we all know how the narrative is going to be given…would it kill them to let him shine?
The thing that divides a lot of the horror audience with regards to where they stand with regards to the Hostel franchise is the torture scenes. Now all things being equal I much prefer the intellectual horror, the torture porn subgenre pierces the surface but when the lights go down there’s nothing to worry about but Hostel (and Part II) is what it is and in it being what it is the margins of critique should be adjusted accordingly. The torture of Hostel: Part III is weak, amateurish and unchallenging it’s almost saddening to watch the deaths of these characters, not because we particularly care about any of them but because it’s sad to see a film that’s lacking in anything that resembles balls. Justin’s death for example should really be one full of emotion and the more brutal the depiction of his demise the most emotional the audience are likely to get due to the fact that it’s unwarranted but in the hands of Spiegel it’s nothing more than frustrating. The Hostel franchise is not an intellectual horror, it doesn’t rely on the weaving of a masterful tale that challenges the audience it’s a franchise of brutalization, violence and destruction for the pleasure and gratification of the viewing audience. The absence of this effectively neuters the film rendering it rather pointless. Another issue with the film is the relocation, outside of the Slovakian location the EHC has been given a face lift, some technological upgrades and has been sanitized to the point of getting a family rating and a queue to enter like
Disneyland. The use of Vegas’ biggest earner is an interesting take on the films’ use of the deaths of innocents as sport for those who can afford it though the gambling aspect was handled better in The Tournament and used the motifs almost as a character.
The rest of the film, narrative, camerawork and score are unobjectionable but it’s as flat as my feet. The film is unremarkable but by Spiegel’s standards is down right worthy of a standard ovation but it is a little sad that Roth’s baby was handed over to be gently smothered rather than hacked to bits.