13 May 2012

Movie Series: Hostel x3

Hostel (2005) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450278/
Hostel Part II (2007) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0498353/
Hostel Part III (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1255916/

Horror Thriller (Torture Porn)

2005's Hostel
Basic story line - a couple of stereotypical American douches and their Icelandic middle-aged douche friend are backpacking across Europe in search of sneepur. Of course, when backpacking across Europe staying at hostels is the cheap way to go. In Amsterdam they are told of this hostel in some Slovakian city where there's tons of fine women 'cause all the menfolk died in the war and nobody goes there because it's off the beaten path and the women love any man with an accent. Of course the douches-three decide to head that-a-way.
They get to said mythical hostel and sure enough, hot young naked womenfolk abound. Only hostel stayers sort of start mysteriously disappearing, one-by-one.
Behind the disappearances is an organization that takes these unlucky abductees and sells them to rich psychos who pay good cash money to torture and kill them. There is a warehouse in Slovakia set up specifically for this purpose, with rooms and all the tools one could ask for to carry out their sickest fantasies.

Written/directed by Eli Roth and produced by Quentin Tarantino. QT's involvement not only gets the film made but also attaches an imprimatur to help get the film watched. Heck I watched it because QTs name was attached. What can I say? I like most of QTs stuff and he has a sensibility about films that I respect, whether or not I like the films he likes, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
Hostel brought bloody gratuitous torture horror to mainstream theaters. Great production quality, as opposed to most horror/slasher/torture films that are generally low budget B-movie quality for direct-to-video releases.

The first time I saw this film I was rather surprised at how graphic it was for its slick mainstream production ways. 6 years later? Not so much. I think I've been seriously desensitized in the interim. I hadn't been much of a gratuitous bloody violence torture film viewer before then, and am not much of one now, but I suppose I've seen enough. As much as it graphically showed, I realized it actually did leave some things for the imagination, a feature I didn't notice the first time around.

If graphic bloody torture violence is not entertaining at all for you then avoid this one.
Otherwise, if you can stomach it, it ain't so bad. A coherent story with a start, middle and finish. The gang of children are especially endearing.

But, they couldn't just leave it there. They had to go and make

Hostel Part II (2007)

Like its predecessor, this is written and directed by Eli Roth and executive produced by QT again. Not surprising, actually, the guy made a decent film the first time. And Cabin Fever wasn't so bad either. Predictable, but done well for its genre.

This film starts off close to where the first film ended, with the surviving character. But we quickly move on from him as this time we follow three girls instead of three guys. While traveling through Europe doing traveling through Europe things like drawing nudes and riding trains they are coerced by one of the nude models to travel to Slovakia to go to a hot springs spa and get away from the crush of douchey-European guys. The girls end up staying at the same hostel we saw in the first flick, with the same dude behind the counter, and the same crowd of street urchins stopping folks and demanding DOLLAR.

Instead of rehashing the first film with a trio of girls, though, this film takes some interesting twists. One new aspect is a little more insight into the workings of the organization that sells the chance to torture and kill the backpackers that make the unfortunate choice to stay at the hostel. We also get to follow a couple of Americans who bid on then bought the chance to become new members of this elite club.

And that's what actually works for this film in comparison with the first one. Instead of just repeating the first film they tell us more about that organization behind the kidnappings, we get to see a couple of the participants and learn about their motivations and such, how they handle actually stepping in the room for the first time. Things like that, and some other stuff I won't reveal.

There's still the graphic violence just like the first one, the repeating of dumb decisions people in horror films always seem to make - the obvious missteps they take that lead them directly to their fate.

As a sequel it is much stronger than one would think it would have been. A little bit smarter approach than the "how can we creatively kill people this time" tack that the Final Destination series took.


Hostel Part III (2011)
So, here we are. At this moment I haven't yet watched the film. I'm just trying to capture my snarky skepticism before I begin watching.
I must ask why oh why did they make this movie? The first two were fine enough for their genre and as far as I'm concerned the story was told well and doesn't really need to continue. I'm satisfied where things leave off.
First off - this one went direct to video. That's clue one.
Clue two, not written nor directed by Eli Roth.
Clue three, it is not even produced by Eli Roth nor QT.

So where does this stack up in the series? Guess.

I know where my suspicion lies.
It's going to feel like some studio had contracted for the third film and wants to get it out before they lost the rights to make it. They want to cash in on the Hostel film franchise name. I'm guessing it is going to suck.

Okay, now that I've seen the film, here we go.

This time around we aren't in Slovakia. Apparently the "kill for pleasure" club, now officially named the "Elite Hunter's Club" (with its snazzy logo), has franchise locations. One such location lies just outside Las Vegas in a giant stone building surrounded by a shiny new chain link fence.
So starts the "Hangover" meets "Hostel" film. Four guys are gonna do a bachelor party, they lie about where they are going and divert to Las Vegas. Stripper party, woo! Guys start disappearing. Eventually everyone ends up at the club.
This club is Vegas-fied. Not only do people pay to do their killings, other club members place bets on what sort of torture will be applied, what sort of pleading for life angle the victim will use ("I have a family" "I have to feed my dog" "I'm allergic to circular saws"). Apparently these folks all hang around in a small theater that looks through protective glass at the torture room. Big breasted women wearing suspenders over the naughty bits serve drinks.

Positives:
It ties in to the previous two films through the organization that arranged for the rich to indulge in torture-killings of people. It introduces the concept of franchises or satellite locations, that is, locations other than the one place in Slovakia that all the club members would travel to get their sick on.

Negatives:
I had a giant mental list so I will just hit the major negative points.
The only tie-in to the original film is the title of the film, the killing-people-club concept and the core of the updated membership tattoo. Otherwise there really is no real connection between this film and its predecessors.
Redesigned club tattoos. Club tattoos can be used at various scanning points to unlock doors. You can guess how this factors in to the action.
The Vegas-ification of the club with the drink servers, betting on aspects of the torture sessions, etc. Killing people because you can isn't a private endeavor any more, it is a (more or less) public performance.
Apparently the same people hang out in that club for ages.
The tracking-down of someone's residence from an email address. Because someone has leet hacking skillz.

subpar acting. limited sets. overly complex club location in comparison to the original.
Some of the practical effects are laughable. I laughed out loud when a dude's arm got chopped off.

Yes it sucked. It Fantastic Four sucked. Not quite Ewe Boll sucked, but close.

If you liked the first two films there is no reason to even watch this one except to laugh at it or mock it with friends. If you hated the first films you probably wouldn't watch this one anyhow. You aren't missing anything.

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