Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hostel Part III (2011)

**This review contains spoilers**

One night, Travis (Chris Coy) wanders into the room of a vacationing Ukrainian couple at a rundown hostel in Las Vegas. Anka (Evelina Oboza) urges Travis to stay, while Victor (Nickola Shreli) offers him a glass of vodka, but Travis refuses. Instead, Travis gives Anka and Victor a few bottles of beer. But Victor and Anka unknowingly drink drugged beer, causing both of them to pass out afterwards. Travis reveals himself as an Elite Hunting Club associate (Travis is also the right hand man for the Vegas leader/boss) with the mandatory bloodhound tattoo, as more Elite Hunting associates arrive to take Anka and Victor to the Vegas headquarters. 

Meanwhile, Using a golf trip as a cover, Carter (Kip Pardue) fools his best friend, Scott (Brian Hallisay) and his soon-to-be wife/girlfriend, Amy (Kelly Thiebaud). Carter actually planned a bachelor party vacation to Las Vegas with Scott’s two friends, Mike (Skyler Stone) and Justin (John Hensley), suffering from a bad leg and having to rely on a crutch, tagging along.

In a casino, the three friends meet two escorts and best friends named Nikki (Zulay Henao) and Kendra (Sarah Habel), who convince them to go to an underground club for a wild and risky party. Refusing to break his promise to Amy after a previous incident of infidelity, Scott turns down Kendra’s offer for sex, disappointing Carter, who payed money up front.

After the club, Mike and Nikki mysteriously disappear together. Worried, Scott, Carter, and Justin team up with Kendra to find Mike and Nikki. Unbeknownst to the search party, Mike and Nikki were taken by Elite Hunting Club associates, and tortured to death in front of Elite Hunting members. With a false text message from Elite Hunting, the search party is lured into the dingy hostel, where Elite Hunting associates gas and kidnap everyone. Waiting in the car, and noticing bagged bodies being dumped into the back of a van, Justin is knocked out by Travis and taken.

At the Elite Hunting headquarters in Vegas, Scott, Kendra, Carter, and Justin are held captive in cages with an angry Victor, who lost Anka during a torture/death show…until Carter reveals his bloodhound tattoo for Elite Hunting members. Carter is freed with the promise of torturing Scott to death by the Vegas headquarters leader, Flemming (Thomas Kretschmann). But Flemming double-crosses Carter, when he orders Scott’s release during the torture show in front of other Elite Hunting members, forcing Carter into a deadly duel with his former best friend.

Mediocre cast at best. Brian Hallisay is a dull and uninteresting leading man, Skyler Stone’s act as the Wildman, who loves to party and fool around on his wife is annoying, and John Hensley is just there. Kip Pardue delivers the best performance, but he couldn’t take things to the next level, when Carter revealed himself as a member of Elite Hunting. The direction of Pardue’s character changed, but I just saw the same guy with no noticeable changes in his character. Remember when Stuart turned on Beth in Part II? You could actually see the changes in Roger Bart, as he transformed into a cold-blooded nutcase. Pardue? Not so much. Nickola Shreli is good for a few laughs, as the rowdy prisoner, who will do anything to get under the skin of the Elite Hunting guards. And it’s not fair to judge Kelly Thiebaud’s Amy, because she only appears at the very beginning and during the finale.

A big step down for the antagonists in this Hostel film. Chris Coy’s Travis is boring. Flemming doesn’t show up until the final stages of Hostel III, but Kretschman doesn’t do anything to make you care about his character. The guards at the Elite Hunting facility in Vegas can’t rise above standard and one-dimensional goon/thug personas, and the torturers for Elite Hunting could’ve been replaced by anyone with some basic acting skills.

Hostel Part III ignores the storylines in the first two films, and we get an inside look at the American side of Elite Hunting with the Las Vegas headquarters. I appreciate the changes here, because the “random group of American tourists unknowingly wandering into a death trap in Slovakia” premise ran its course, and they really milked this premise for all it’s worth in the second film.

At the Las Vegas headquarters, Elite Hunting Club members don’t actually kill the kidnapped victims. They watch torturers or trained killers (they don’t have a proper name) kill the victims in a glass casing during a show. Meanwhile, Elite Hunting Club members bet on the fates of the victims. Elite Hunting members use a “Wheel Of Misfortune” on their computers to select options for potential pleas or reactions from the victim (i.e. begging for one last chance to see their families, begging for their lives, screaming, crying, etc.). The Wheel Of Misfortune can also be used to predict the weapon the professional will use to kill the victim. Whoever comes close or guesses right, wins a cash prize. The Wheel Of Misfortune is a refreshing feature in the latest Hostel installment, and the wheel is a perfect tie-in for the Vegas theme. Also, Elite Hunting members can use their bloodhound tattoos to enter and exit the Vegas headquarters via a scanner.

I’ll give Michael D. Weiss ( the writer) credit for some nice twist and turns and surprises. During the intro, you would automatically assume Victor and Anka are working for Elite Hunting, but Travis revealing himself as the associate was a nice shocker to start off the movie. Weiss also pulls a nice fake out with Kendra and Nikki, deceiving the audience into thinking they might be working for Elite Hunting. I thought Scott was done for, when someone threw a bag over his head at the underground club, but Weiss tricks everyone again, because it was a set up by Carter to kick off Scott’s bachelor party. And Carter revealing himself as a member of Elite Hunting in the cages was the icing on the cake.

But I wasn’t a fan of the reasons behind Carter luring his friends into a death trap, so he can torture Scott to death: Carter wants to torture and kill Scott, so he can have Amy all to himself, and Carter is the one, who told Amy about Scott’s one-night stand. I’m sorry, but I thought the “I want to kill you, because I’ve always wanted to have sex with your girlfriend” twist was incredibly lame.

Overall, Scott Spiegel’s (the director, and he also served as a producer for Hostel I & II, and he‘s also a producer for this film) style is bland, but the suspenseful finale is fun to watch. Covering his tracks, Flemming decides to blow up the Vegas headquarters after Scott calls 911. During the countdown, Scott is forced to fight for his life, Carter escapes, and he locks the gate, so Scott can die in the explosion. Yeah, it was obvious Scott would return for revenge on Carter with Amy’s help, and he did. Still, I was on the edge of my seat, and Carter using Flemming’s body as a cushion to drive over the spikes in the car garage is my top pick for  the “OMG!” moment in Hostel III.

Hostel III tries to be something different. I respect and admire the efforts here, but unfortunately, Hostel III suffers from your usual straight-to-video horror sequel problems. A mediocre cast, terrible production values, and sub-par special effects (which is strange because Hostel, a mainstream release, had a budget of $4.8 million, and Hostel III‘s budget was an estimated $6 million). Also, why in the name of all things holy is Hostel III dubbed as an “unrated” horror film? Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING in this movie is that extreme, gross, violent, or graphic to warrant an unrated label. The first two Hostel films (especially the second one) are more bloody and nasty, and it’s not even close. The unrated stuff is just another deceiving tagline to lure Hostel die hards to this film. Hostel III has a few nasty death scenes, that’ll make you cringe and squirm (the professional carving and peeling off Mike’s face…yikes), but the third installment in the Hostel franchise is average at best.

Rating: 5/10

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