After two entries abroad, III moves the action to the United States, specifically Vegas, where soon-to-be-married Scott (Brian Hallisay), his best man Carter (Kip Pardue), realist/nice guy/gimp Justin (John Hensley), and the exceptionally obnoxious Mike (Skyler Stone) are having a bachelor party. After a night of drinking and dancing with "professional" party girls Kendra (Sarah Habel) and Nikki (Zulay Henao), they quickly discover their numbers are dropping one by one, victims of an American branch of the Elite Hunting club.
Hostel Part III is directed by Scott Spiegel, producer of the first two Hostels and co-writer of Evil Dead II. Seeing his name attached gave me hope (at least he's a genre vet), but the main trick Spiegel and screenwriter Michael D. Weiss have to offer is slight subversion of the audience's expectations. The prologue and the first victim are clever twists worth a chuckle, but even that kind of invention is in short supply: at some point, the movie has no choice but to become a Hostel film, and in doing so, the film turns formulaic (abduction, shock, killing, escape attempts). The script has a few other interesting ideas -- the illusion of safety at home as opposed to away, spoofing The Hangover (if that was the intent) -- but they lay dormant and undeveloped.
Although I suppose there must be some sort of specific fanbase, given Sony's gone and bankrolled this thing, it seems odd to call oneself "a fan of the series," yet that's where most of my complaints stem from. One of the smartest little details in Hostel Part II is the visible increase in security at the "hostel" following the first film. It's a touch that shows Roth put some thought into how the organization worked and the logistics of running that kind of business. Weiss, on the other hand, has not invested as much effort. The new branch is inside a hotel way out in the desert, and it's packed with Vegas-style additions, like curtained observation rooms where viewers can place bets on the victim (how long before they try to bargain by mentioning their family, what instrument of torture the killer will use). It's a nice surface-level idea, but it raises a ton of questions. Is no one suspicious of a trail of limousines going to and from an abandoned-looking hotel? The establishment has Playboy bunny style waitresses: how do the proprietors screen these employees and prevent them from talking? These changes also result in a weird shift of focus for the business: in the first two, the rich were paying to get the thrill of killing, and the victims were sort of collateral damage; here, there's almost no focus on the murderers thsmelves as opposed to the bettors, and that feels a little weak (I guess the thrill of betting on how someone is going to die seems less potent than that of getting to participate).
On a technical level, Spiegel is unable to hide the distinct difference in budget between his entry and Roth's, and the small-scale nature of the film stands out like a bit of a sore thumb (likely playing a part in some of the reductions mentioned above). A few cheap CGI effects rear their heads, and despite the "Unrated" moniker, the film is far less violent than either of its predecessors. The passable cast that do their jobs without any egregious mis-steps (highlights being Chris Coy and Nickola Shreli in small but crucial roles, both of whom are more interesting than the movie's leads). It all builds to an unusual ending that totally ignores the psychological implications of the premise of the Elite Hunting club, which I would've said the first two films are crucially curious about. All things considered, Hostel Part III could be a far worse movie, but the handful of things it does decently are more like lucky spins on the roulette wheel than a concentrated effort by the filmmakers.
The Video and Audio
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, sadly, has that "direct-to-video" feel: the sound effects pack less of a punch, the music doesn't carry as much weight, and the whole thing sounds a little cheap. I can't say it ruins the experience, but I feel like it's a missed opportunity to try and really put the viewer in Vegas (the casino the characters hit up is visibly small scale, but a fuller, richer ambience might've helped sell it more), or to increase the size of the new "hostel." Parisian French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai 5.1 tracks are also included, as well as English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles, and English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing.
A promo for Blu-Ray and trailers for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Retreat, Attack the Block, Drive, and Columbiana play before the main menu. No trailer for Hostel Part III has been included.