Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The house always wins."

Hostel: Part III (2011)
Dir: Scott Spiegel
Starring: Kip Pardue, Brian Hallisay, John Hensley
MPAA: Unrated

Great opening scene. I don't want to spoil anything, but the beginning of this latest chapter in the gruesome horror series does a pretty fantastic job of subverting your expectations while still staying true to the other movies. The whole movie actually has a few tricks up its sleeve that ultimately make it more satisfying than part 2, but it's still not a particularly great movie.

The action has moved from the Eastern Bloc to American soil, specifically Las Vegas, as a group of somewhat douchey young men get together for a bachelor party and run into the Elite Hunting Club, now using their Vegas environs to place bets on the victims (what they may say to beg for their lives, how long they may survive, etc.). It's novel, but by bringing the movie to the US it loses the "stranger in a strange land" sense of alienation that drove the other two movies.

Also, being the first in the series to go direct to DVD, the flick looks cheap. Of course that's to be expected, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching a pilot for Hostel: The Series, which, for the record, is a show I would watch the ever lovin' shit out of. 

This is Spiegel's second movie as director, and his first in over 10 years. The other was From Dusk Til Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, another above-average DTV sequel. He still has a habit of employing distractingly showy POV shots, but he's much less reliant on them than he was in Dusk.

Budget limitations and odd directorial choices aside, this is a solid little movie. It's much tamer than the other two despite the meaningless "unrated" tag (since it was never theatrically released there was never a rated cut) but the kills are varied enough that it doesn't feel like a retread of things we've seen before. There are some truly clever twists that also keep things fresh, and all things considered it's definitely worth a watch, especially if you liked the others in the series.

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