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Scott Spiegel
Thomas Kretschmann, Kip Pardue, John Hensley, Barry Livingston, Zulay Henao, Sarah Habel, Skyler Stone
Writing Credits:
Michael D. Weiss, Eli Roth (characters)

Do you feel lucky?

High stakes gambling takes on a sinister new meaning in this third chapter of the terrifying Hostel series. While attending a bachelor party in Las Vegas, four friends are enticed by two sexy escorts to join them at a private party way off the Strip. Once there, they are horrified to find themselves the subjects of a perverse game of torture, where members of the Elite Hunting Club are hosting the most sadistic show in town.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 12/27/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Scott Spiegel and Actor Kip Pardue
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Hostel: Part III (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2011)

When I reviewed Hostel Part II back in 2007, I indicated that I did so out of idle curiosity. I disliked the original flick and took a look at the first sequel simply out of a minor desire to see if it would top its predecessor.

No, it didn’t – at least not in my opinion, as Part II seemed like more of the same. So why am I putting myself through 2011’s Hostel Part III? Good question – I guess it’s more idle curiosity, prompted this time by a change in director. Maybe the shift from Eli Roth to Scott Spiegel will bring life to the franchise.

While the first two movies took place in Europe, Part III brings the action to the good old US of A. After a prologue that sets up the notion of trafficking in kidnapped humans for sadistic purposes, we meet Scott (Brian Hallisay), engaged to Amy (Kelly Thiebaud) and headed to a Palm Springs golf-based bachelor weekend with his pals Carter (Kip Pardue), Mike (Skyler Stone) and Justin (John Hensley).

Except they’re not headed to Palm Springs – instead, they go to Las Vegas for a much smuttier vacation. Among all the partying, Mike goes missing, and we soon learn that the same kidnappers we met at the start have taken him. There he undergoes torture while members of the “Elite Hunting Club” watch and gamble for their perverse pleasure. As his pals search for him, the group takes them in as well. We follow their efforts to survive and escape.

All that sounds fairly familiar, doesn’t it? Not that this means Part III comes without any twists or surprises. It likes to play with audience expectations, so we encounter false starts and red herrings as the characters head toward the pain that inevitably confronts them.

This leaves two big questions: who’ll survive, and what disgusting sights will we encounter? For fans, the latter offers the series’ biggest attraction. I doubt they really invest in the characters or plot elements, and the amount of dramatic development remains next to nil. I do think Part III probably offers a more traditional suspense/horror story than the basic “torture porn” of the first two, but it’s still clearly cut from the same cloth.

Whether or not that’s a good thing remains up to the viewer. It’s pretty simple: the movie delivers similar thrills – or nausea, depending on perspective – when compared to the first two flicks. When I started the review, I mentioned that I thought a new director might infuse a different sensibility in the series. Spiegel may make this one a bit more story-based, as I noted, but just a bit. If I didn’t know someone other than Roth directed Part III, I wouldn’t have figured it out by what I saw on my TV; the third film is a close cousin to the first two.

And that’s probably fine with the folks who dug those movies, but it means Part III seems unlikely to generate new fans. This is a genre that goes to such violent, grotesque extremes that it will always have a limited audience. Even the most successful – and least offensive - “R”-rated horror films fund it tough to find large crowds; for instance, the second Saw flick appears to be the highest grossing of the “torture porn” efforts, and it still topped out around $87 million. Movies like this earn profits because they don’t cost much to make, but they rarely escape into the mainstream.

Which I suspect is fine with fans, as they don’t want the taming/accommodations that would likely be required to appeal to a larger audience. With some grisly sequences, Part III definitely doesn’t tone down its violence, so it’s a “preaching to the choir” kind of flick.

Will fans like Part III? Probably, as I think it’s reasonably satisfying for its genre. The red herrings and twists can feel a little coy at times, but at least they help spice up proceedings that could quickly become tedious and predictable. There’s not a ton of originality on display, but the movie works acceptably well for what it is.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Hostel Part III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a bad SD-DVD presentation, the transfer was more erratic than I’d like.

Some of the inconsistencies came from sharpness. Parts of the movie exhibited good clarity and definition, but more than a few exceptions occurred, especially in wide shots. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but some light edge haloes occurred, and other forms of artifacting marred the presentation.

More than a few print flaws also cropped up, as I noticed some specks and a couple of big hairs. These tended to come in batches; large parts of the transfer passed without defects, but some segments showed lots of them. Since a brand-new flick shouldn’t have any debris like this, I was surprised to see so many issues.

To fit its genre, Part III went with a stylized palette. The Vegas shots opted for the usual bright neon tones, while other shots tended to be colder and more desaturated, though some sickly yellows and green also entered the picture. The colors usually looked runny and messy; they weren’t terrible but they lacked clarity.

Blacks were erratic. Dark tones tended to be somewhat flat and inky, and shadows were up and down. Some low-light shots offered decent clarity, but many were rather dense and tough to discern. The image was good enough for a “C-“ but the mix of problems made it surprisingly unattractive.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hostel Part III also had some concerns, mostly because it lacked much heft. I needed to crank my receiver higher than normal, and even then, the mix still didn’t have much punch. Occasional scenes offered a little more oomph, but the audio remained surprisingly flat much of the time.

Otherwise, audio quality was fine. Speech remained natural and distinctive, and music seemed clear. Effects showed good accuracy, even without the lack of great presence. The mix had decent quality that simply suffered from a dearth of punch.

As for the soundscape, it was fine for the material. The mix opted to focus mostly on the front speakers, so the back channels didn’t add much more than some music and general reinforcement. In the front, the elements showed good placement and meshed together fairly well. Nothing here seemed especially memorable, but the track was satisfactory beyond its volume issues.

Only one significant extra shows up here: an audio commentary from director Scott Spiegel and actor Kip Pardue. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character subjects, cast and performances, the rapid-fire nature of the production, photography, sets and locations, editing and deleted scenes, audio, and a few other areas.

Pardue and Spiegel deliver too much happy talk along the way, but they still manage to produce a good number of thoughts about the movie’s creation. They cover various challenges well and dig into a nice variety of subjects. Ultimately they make this a useful piece.

The disc opens with ads for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Retreat, Drive, Colombiana and Attack the Block. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Hostel Part III pops up here.

Will Hostel Part III do anything to convert new fans? No, but I suspect folks who enjoy the series will find merit in it. Though there’s nothing especially memorable here, it’s fine for its genre. The DVD provides erratic picture and audio as well as a good commentary. Leave this one for aficionados of the Hostel franchise.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 5
0 3:
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