Blu-ray Review: HOSTEL PART III – A Torture Porn Take On The Hangover

When film critic David Edelstein first coined the phrase €œtorture porn€ in a review of Eli Roth€™s Hostel little did he know that it would become one of the most popular sub-genres of the 21st century. From Roth€™s disturbing warning against European travel to the Saw series, torture porn has dominated the world of horror during the past decade with low budget movies going on to make countless millions at the box office. Making its debut on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, Hostel Part III is the DTV sequel to Eli Roth€™s original series. Directed by Sam Spiegel, a regularcollaborator with Sam Raimi and producer of the original films, the film brings the action stateside for a rather unusual horror take on The Hangover. 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. As was revealed in Hostel Part II, the Elite Hunting Club is a worldwide organisation that stretches beyond the confines of the first two films€™ Eastern European setting. Part III takes this idea and runs with it, rather than a retread of the previous films it eschews the quiet, out of the way setting by bringing the sadistic group€™s operation right to the heart of America with victims plucked from the hotels, casinos and clubs of Las Vegas. There is also a new aspect to the club€™s depravity, now instead of paying to torture victims themselves members sit in an elaborate theatre to watch the violence taking place behind a glass screen in front of them. Taking the Vegas setting as an inspiration they gamble on such things as how long before the victim tries to bribe their way out, what tool the torturer will choose and how much can the victim take before they pass out or die. While the plot marks a change of tack from the original films it still maintains the gritty style and in your face violence that were a defining feature. It pulls no punches with faces being removed, excruciating scenes of pain and over the top blood and gore. There is enough here to keep fans of the original films happy but even in its supposed unrated form it never quite shocks in the same way as Roth€™s originals although I expect this is most likely down to the scaled down budget rather than a conscious decision to tame it down. As is often the case with this genre, the characters are paper thin giving us very little reason to care who lives and who dies. The majority are pretty detestable and from the outset deserve their fates. The bachelor party at the centre of the film are a typical group of stereotypes offering nothing new in situations we have seen countless times before. Kip Pardue (Driven, The Rules Of Attraction) and Brian Hallisay (Privileged) are forgettable as the two leads with a chequered past providing the film with a fairly obvious twist. German actor Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist, King Kong) puts in an appearance as the owner of the Elite Hunting Club€™s Vegas branch but his performance is half-hearted and also not particularly memorable. I never thought I would lament the lack of director Eli Roth€™s involvement in a film project but Hostel Part III certainly made me do so. It is rather telling that both Roth and executive producer of both original films, Quentin Tarantino, chose to have nothing to do with this continuation of the series. It is certainly not the worst DTV sequel to emerge in recent years as it does offer a few new ideas on the theme and moves the story along rather than simply retread previous ground, however with a reduced budget and slightly toned down violence it fails to recapture the lasting impression left by the original. Quality Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen the transfer is consistent with the previous entries in the Hostel series. Maintaining a decent level of grain the dimly lit scenes still hold enough detail and colour range for a satisfactory picture quality. Sound quality is equally acceptable if not particularly awe-inspiring. It lacks the scope of a theatrical release and seems very small scale in comparison to bigger budget releases. Extras The only special feature on the disc is an audio commentary from director Spiegel and star Pardue. The talk track offers a fairly lively anecdotal conversation between the two covering all you would need to know about the making of a DTV film. Surprisingly there is no making of documentary or any of the kind of EPK material one would expect for a film such as this making the overall package something of a disappointment. Film €“ 2 out of 5 Hostel Part III manages to continue the story without simply repeating previous episodes adding a few neat twists to the concept along the way. Visuals €“ 3 out of 5 Acceptable picture quality retaining the look and feel of the original films. Audio €“ 3 out of 5 While not particularly epic in scope it still provides a reasonable soundtrack presentation. Extras €“ 2 out of 5 Just the one special feature, an audio commentary covers all you need to know about the making of the film. Presentation €“ 3 out of 5 The overall packaging and menu design offers a good continuation of the style and look of the packaging and presentation of original films. Overall €“ 2 out of 5 By no means the worst DTV sequel bringing a few new ideas to the table but it lacks the lasting impression of Eli Roth€™s original films. Hostel Part III is available on Blu-ray, DVD and DVD Trilogy Boxset now.
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