Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hostel: Part III (2011)

Hostel is pretty much the poster child for the "torture porn" subgenre of horror. And it's a subgenre that gets a lot of negative attention, for superficial reasons. Personally, I have no problem with so-called "torture porn" - I think that body horror is a totally legitimate subject for a horror movie. I get that not everyone likes gore, which has been very popular in horror in recent years, and I, too, appreciate a movie that's more successful at building suspense and creating tension and scaring the audience than simply grossing them out with blood and guts. But I like all different kinds of horror, and if blood and guts isn't welcome in the horror genre, then by god, where will it be welcomed?

In any case, I have a soft spot in my heart for the original Hostel (and, I guess, by extension, the Hostel series), simply because it's one of the first movies I made a point to go out and see after that point in my life when I sat down and said to myself, "I'm a horror fan". Obviously, it's not the first horror movie I ever watched (not by a long shot), but it was one of the first I went to see in a theater after I had created that image for myself as a person who enjoys the horror genre. And though I've never called it one of my favorite horror movies, I did think it did what it did rather well.

I didn't even know there was a Hostel: Part III (IMDb suggests it went straight to video), but there it was on Netflix, so you know I had to watch it. And, actually, for a straight-to-video movie, it's pretty good. Although there is some nudity, it doesn't have nearly as much sex as the last two Hostels (which is a disappointment, because a frank and unashamed approach to sexuality was one of the things I liked in particular about the Hostel series) (on that note, if I find that Netflix has stiffed me on a censored version of a movie again, I'm gonna be royally pissed). But there is plenty of violence, although I would say that this movie focuses more on quality than quantity, getting a bit more creative rather than simply going all out with the cringe-worthy torture scenes. The characters involved are probably not going to become your best friends, but they're sympathetic (and in the case of the villains, detestable) enough, and it's a relief that they're not the total over-the-top douchebag protagonists I've been seeing in a lot of horror films lately.

But perhaps the best aspect of this film is the surprises it has in store. It totally plays on your expectations, as a viewer watching a Hostel film. Like, you know how the script goes, so you think you've got it figured out, then it turns things upside-down on you. Plus, it makes an excellent lesson out of judging people by appearances. And, this time around, the torture club is brought stateside, with a haughty establishment in the barren desert outside of Las Vegas. I know, it kind of flips the whole theme of Hostel - your worst nightmare when going abroad - upside-down, but I think it works. It's at least more successful than [Rec] 3 was in flouting its series' conventions by choosing not to be strictly a found footage film (another unpopular subgenre of horror). If you like the Hostel films, or are at least not squeamish about torture porn, give Hostel: Part III a try. I think chances are pretty good that you'll like it.

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