What happens in Vegas, stays in direct-to-video sequels.
Filmmaker Eli Roth, the man behind 'Hostel' and 'Hostel Part II,' is not credited for any part of 'Hostel Part III.' His mention in the opening credits of the film, as a writing credit for the "characters," only means the writers piggybacked off his work, with the Elite Hunting Club once again buying strangers to kill. Keep this in mind. Also keep in mind that 'Hostel Part III' is the first film in the series to not get a theatrical bow, despite the fact that the first two films combined made over sixty million domestically, and over one hundred million worldwide. Perhaps the lengthy gap between films (the sequel bowed in 2007) is part of the reason why this third film was kept off the silver screen; with attention spans growing shorter and shorter, that's not too surprising. However, I have another theory: The reason 'Hostel Part III' didn't hit theaters is that it's shit.
It wouldn't take much to outdo the second film, as it was a very poor sequel that was as satisfying as taking a blowtorch to the face, and yet, this film can't even do that. Under the direction of Scott Spiegel ('From Dusk Till Dawn: Texas Blood Money' and 'Intruder'), this threequel is chock full of failures, most of which can be blamed on the writer, who is responsible for two other franchise killing abominations ('The Butterfly Effect 2,' 'I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer'). Though, really, I'd like to pin the blame on anyone who got paid to do a single thing in this film, since, you know, they got paid to torture a bunch of unsuspecting victims.
When four guys meet up in Las Vegas for a bachelor party, they think it's going to be nothing but fun, drinking, strippers, possibly an escort. That's not how it works when anyone from the Elite Hunting Group is around, though. When one of the guys goes missing, along with his escort friend, a search is on for their whereabouts, but, in the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar, "it's a trap!" With torture booths set up for viewing audiences, the game has gotten a little more depraved, even if the rules remain the same.
Did you notice that I didn't single out any character name or actor playing him or her in the above film recap/tease? I did that for a reason. In 'Hostel Part III,' we meet characters in a manner that is not conducive to us "getting to know them," as we're incapable of growing concerned for their future plight. We meet the guys, and they hardly call each other by name, so we are left to wonder who they really are. Screenwriting error, very much, as the already disposable nature of any lead in a 'Hostel' film is now multiplied, as we notice that we're not even supposed to learn their names. Only... later on we're supposed to know their names. In instances like this, I think it should be a rule that the guys cast should all have distinguishing markings, like different hair color and hairstyles, or, as one of the guys in this film has, a physical malady.
So we have four generic, horny guys looking for a good time, and they meet up with a pair of escorts. Those familiar with the original already know the role said escorts play in the "procurement' process, so our minds tell us to write them off. But wait, no, we should have learned their names, too. They may not necessarily be "the bad guys" in all of this. And that, readers, is this film's problem: we don't know who's a good guy, who's a bad guy, and this ambiguity doesn't add suspense to any scene. It adds confusion. Unnecessary, patience testing confusion.
Now, a torture den/EHC club is on the outskirts of Sin City. It's big as hell, and has all types of fancy electronics, for the spectators (fellow hunters) to gamble, in a way, on the torture-slash-murders they bear witness to. There are even door scanners that rely on the hounddog tattoo to activate, and armed guards. So, ignoring the fact that an energy company representative would, at some point, have to check their meter (which probably spins rather fast), we have to wonder about, you know, security, anonymity, that sort of thing, as us Americans can visualize Eastern European countries as more quaint in that regard. Yet, there's no concern in the film given to the fact that fire departments regularly check industrial and commercial buildings for safety violations and standards...or any similar situation.
Nothing in this film makes sense. The torture segments aren't as gruesome or nasty this time around, and there's definitely a cheapness to them. The film mushrooms with a plot-twist that makes no sense, and the aftermath of said twist, into one prolonged climax that leaves you wondering what really is happening in this rapidly cut film. As twists happen, you may find yourself thinking back to previous scenes, to see if there were any clues, and what you remember will make everything as the film moves forward seem more and more illogical and, basically, stupid. Plot devices in this film are idiotic and nonsensical, while the entire premise is played out and very ineffective.
Eli Roth, love him or hate him, proved his value by staying the hell away from this abomination. This is not effective horror, or even torture porn. It's silly, almost laugh inducing, but not the ironic or tongue-in-cheek type chuckle filmmakers would want. This is so bad it's laughable. 'Hostel Part III' starts off on the wrong foot, and limps the rest of the way along, throwing caution to the wind and hoping the audience for a film like this won't notice the glaring plot holes. If the gore were a little better, or more intense, it wouldn't matter so much, but even that's a failure. This whole film was a waste of my bloody time, and I'm mad at myself for writing about it.
The Disc: Vital Stats
While America didn't get a Blu-ray release for many Sony direct-to-video sequels as of late, despite rumors they would come, 'Hostel Part III' didn't stay in Blu-ray release purgatory like 'Quarantine: Terminal' did. Available in the UK on a Region A/B/C BD50 disc, this flick functions just like any American release from Sony. A perfectly friendly, simple import disc.
The 'Hostel' films haven't scored very well in this department in the past...and the import release of the third film is not an exception to this rule. This is Blu-ray ugliness, presented in 1080p with the AVC MPEG-4 encode. On top of the distractingly large hairs and scratches that pop up (that don't seem to be aesthetic, due to their disappearance later into the film), this disc has some of the most egregious, copious amounts of digital noise imaginable. It's bloody everywhere in some shots, to the point that textures in the film become dampened to the point of non-existence in many scenes. Skin wears heavy with this effect, and off lighting makes for constantly flushed, pale white and blue people that look like Toronto Blue Jays jerseys. Colors look nice in day shots, but there aren't many of those here, as we get low-lit or awkward interiors the majority of the movie. Detail levels never take off, to the point that it's not difficult to imagine this being a DVD, save for the lack of chroma errors or artifacts. As a coup de grace, more rapid moving/action sequences late in the film blur terribly, like a setting on your computer that makes your pointer have a ghosted trail behind it. These actors aren't rapid moving kung-fu fighters, even if their every action looks like Johnny Cage's shadow kick.
The (only) highlight of this disc is the audio. Each and every track on this release is given DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 treatment, and it's mostly effective. Score regularly hits all angles and has solid enough range, while displaying some nice, light bass kicks from time to time, as well as volume hikes for tension. Busy rooms sound the part, with plenty of activity coming from all sides, while localized effects in less-crowded sequences work like a charm. Sometimes the dialogue in this film seems a little brutish and blunt, and on a few occasions yelling doesn't increase volume levels, which makes for an odd, muted feeling (stun gun zaps suffer from this effect, as well), while a couple lines late in the film sound digital, not human. The audio scores high for activity and power, but definitely not for precision. It's a bull in a china shop.
The 'Hostel' films have their niche fans, and I'm sure the cancellation of the American Blu-ray of the third film stung quite a few potential buyers. While the film is available in the UK on a Region A/B/C import, those same potential buyers may want to exercise some caution heading in. The transplanting of the story from Europe to America is not seamless, and it doesn't quite make sense, and the whole affair seems cheap and shoddily made. The Blu-ray has solid audio and spotty video, same as the previous films, and a single extra for those interested. Due to the potential for dissatisfaction with the film, this qualifies as a risky import for most, and a title to avoid for the casual fan. Direct-to-video strikes again!