No worries: “Hostel: Part III” is in good hands with Scott Spiegel (“Intruder“) at the helm. Just as Roth turned the tables in 2007’s “Part II” by refusing to take the easy route of just redoing 2005’s “Hostel,” Spiegel also does something very different.
Namely: Vegas, baby, Vegas!
No characters from the previous “Hostel” entries appear, not that many were left; only the general concept of the Elite Hunting Club survives. For newbies, that’s the organization that makes “The Most Dangerous Game” look tame: Rather than simply hunting down innocent lives, the rich members of the EHC pay big bucks to torture their prey using an array of instruments that would make Laurence Olivier’s “Marathon Man” dentist hard.
Bringing the EHC from Eastern Europe to our shores, Spiegel’s take centers around a bachelor party for Scott (Brian Hallisay, TV’s “Privileged”) being overseen by his piggish single pal (Kip Pardue, “Stag Night“). Scott’s fiancé (Kelly Thiebaud, TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) is worried about the trip, and she has good reason — not because Scott cheated on her a year ago, but because this is, after all, “Hostel: Part III.”
Starting with the mega-douche Mike (Skyler Stone, TV’s “Raising Hope”), hot hookers with drugged drinks and whatnot get the guys in the worst seat in the house: strapped into a metal chair in a sterile room that serves as a stage for the audience’s exclusive high rollers, who place bets via the EHC’s electronic “Wheel of Misfortune” system to guess the victim’s reaction, the tool the torturer will use, time of death, etc. In charge of the operation is Flemming (Thomas Kretschmann, “The Big Bang“).
On the commentary track, the film’s lone extra, Pardue states that “Part III” is “more compelling” than the others. He’s clearly biased — and wrong. For one, the script by Michael D. Weiss (no stranger to direct-to-DVD sequels, having penned 2006’s “The Butterfly Effect 2″ and “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer”) operates on a horribly stupid character motive; you’ll know it when you hear it.
For another, it’s noticeably watered-down from Roth’s so-called “torture porn” approach overall, especially for a disc proudly branded as “UNRATED.” There are exceptions, such as Mike’s facial and another person’s rather unique use of a parking garage’s tire spikes.
Yes, “Part III” is the most inferior of the trilogy. That said, I enjoyed it a lot. Spiegel’s sense of humor differs from Roth’s brand of dark wit, but he’s the right fit to keep the franchise going. He’s in a no-win situation — Roth’s hardcore fans will decry this one for not adhering more to the original’s template, but if he had, they’d decry it as a copycat.
Their loss! More open-minded genre aficionados not beholden to one name will enjoy it for its wickedness and gratuitousness. Is it safe? Hell, no! And that’s why I liked it. —Rod Lott