Thomas Kretschmann has starred in some seriously f'ed up movies. Grimm (the true story of a super-creepy Cannibal… as if there is any other kind of cannibal than a creepy one) is probably my favorite, and I absolutely look forward to seeing him in Dario Argento's Dracula 3D, but you've gotta love the guy for diving headfirst in the bloody pool of the famed Elite Hunt Club in Hostel: Part III. I mean, come on: there couldn't have been super-high expectations for a torture porn franchise whose creator (Eli Roth) had moved on to do other stuff. Director Scott Spiegel hadn't done much directing-wise to recommend him (wow: Spring Break '83 and From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money? Where does he keep the Academy Award?), and costars were dodgy names like Kip Pardue (Stag Night, The Wizard of Gore… ouch).
But you know what? There's a lot more to the filmmakers and actors of Hostel: Part III than meets the eye. These guys know what they're doing, and it shows. As someone who's been following the Hostel movies and all its ilk for nearly a decade now, and furthermore as someone who isn't predisposed to liking torture porn in the first place, I have got to give it up to Spiegel and his very well-chosen cast. Even more props go to screenwriter Michael D. Weiss (who's done some gawd-awful work in the past: Journey to the Center of the Earth… just sayin') and cinematographer Andrew Strahorn (don't think I have seen his work, but I do dig this title: The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It).
Hostel: Part III is nothing special in terms of setup (bachelor party with hookers in Vegas goes awry, blah-blah), but when it comes to the, er, execution, it's nearly flawless. I was right there with the characters from word one (the script is funny, dark, twisted and arch) and stayed rapt to the very last excruciating murder (special effects supervisor Russell Tyrrell is sick, sick, sick!). Having said that, yeah — there's some shaky CGI (in the cockroach scene, less could have been more), and it's riddled with clichés (which is ironic, since my use of the phrase "riddled with clichés" is complete cliché!) but I have to say Hostel: Part 3 is one of the better all-out horror flicks I've seen this year. (And it's been a good year! Check back soon for our Tops of 2011 list.)
The thing I really liked about it — in addition to likeable protagonists (John Hensley is always a welcome addition to any cast) — was the injection of cold, cruel, and calculating evil as we are privy to the inner-workings of the Elite Hunt Club. Also the death scenes were, while not as nail-bitingly sadistic as Roth's, quite squirm-inducing in their unflinching gusto. Memorable moments include the aforementioned cockroach cuisine scene; a very non-elective facelift surgery; and an arrow in the head… and the torso, and the neck, and the leg, and the hand.
A quick, fun fix of over-the-top slaughter, slayings and flayings, Hostel: Part III is just what the doctor (or surgeon) ordered.
When it comes to extra features on the disc (due out on Dec 27), there's not a whole lot to plumb. However, the audio commentary with Spiegel and Pardue is spirited, sprightly and laced with fun trivia about the gags, tunes, and casting chaos. Very fun stuff! (And here is where Spiegel gets to shine even more… I teased a bit in the beginning of my review: he really does have a solid cinematic background from which to build.)
= = =
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson