For a sizable number of movie fans, our infatuation firmly established in our youth. Typically attraction to dramas, rom-coms, and other popular fare comes along alter, but universally the initial genres that bring youngsters into the neighborhood movie theater are science fiction, fantasy and, of course, horror. The thing is what was considered horror back then would be unrecognizable as horror today. Horror was once a noble genre that developed the terror slowly, carefully from a psychological perspective, unlike the overtly visual methods that are in common use today. Michael Myers is eviscerating a teenage girl simply cannot generate the lasting effect of the classic Universal Studios monster movies from the thirties and forties. The primary difference is the writers back ten crafted creatures with true emotional depth. There was angst in the Wolf Man and pathos generated by Victor Frankenstein’s monster that gave them dimension allowing the audience to feel compassion blended with their terror. Now the objects of these films have been reduced to little more than one-dimensional killing machine bent on racking up the most impressive number of kills possible. Horror has been reduced to a type of video game where all that counts is the death toll. The only glimmer of imagination required for the current horror flick wannabe is to devise increasingly more vicious means of dispatching the typically annoying victims. This has led to the regrettable sub-genre aptly referred to as ‘torture porn.' Best exemplified by franchises like ‘Saw’ all that matters is the unending stream of elaborate ways to kill somebody causing the maximum amount of physical pain, the outpouring of blood and more entrails that would readily fit in a large bovine. While ‘Saw’ concentrated on complicated devices to inflict pain that was so efficient that Tomás de Torquemada would be green with envy. One horror film series on the verge of achieving franchise status is ‘Hostel.' They are only up to the third installment, but the amount of sheer depravity contained in the first three flicks practically ensures its continuation. It differentiates itself from ‘Saw’ by eschewing Rube Goldberg inspired deadly devices in favor of good old fashion hands-on torture and murder. I suppose something could be said about automaton not replacing a person but this is not exactly the platform to champion that cause.
The ‘Hostel’ movies focus on the exploits of the Elite Hunting Club. While many would hold strong objections to the hunting of animals for sports everyone would certainly agree that the mandate of this rather exclusive organization not only holds no justification, but it is immoral and illegal under any circumstances. The club is dedicated to allowing its extremely wealthy members the opportunity to fulfill the most debased and heinous fantasies they might possess. Usually, this entails the torture and murder of hapless human beings who are kidnapped expressly for this purpose. The term hunting in the title of the club is more than a bit misleading. While some of the psychotic participants do indeed enjoy the chase, the management does offer services to those that prefer a soundproof room, some restraints and the bizarre assortment of sharp objects. If you have a perversion, they have your diversion; the first film considered the supply side with the victim’s point of view used to tell the story. Then the sequel exposed more of the demand side of the sick economic endeavor showing the ultimate extreme the wealthiest 1% can go to abuse the 99%, to use the metaphor in common parlance at the moment. Previously the activities took place on foreign soil where life is cheap. This outing brings the action back home to the city that has been described as the modern Sodom, Las Vegas. The city is a common location for conventions but when the Elite Hunting Club breezes into town the Vegas strip is about to descend to previously untapped sadism.
The soon to be reluctant centers of attention are four friends in town for a bachelor party. They expected a night of drunken debauchery but never imagined they would be the entertainment. There is always a very slight implication that the victims bring their fate upon themselves through unchecked horniness, but no guy looking for a forbidden sexual experience warrants what happens here. The story starts with a quartet of friends, Mike (Skyler Stone), Justin (John Hensley), Carter (Kip Pardue), and the soon to be groom Scott (Brian Hallisay) slipping away from the women in their lives to meet up in Las Vegas for a blowout party. They think their libidos are about to be satisfied when they are approached by two of the town’s working girls, Nicki (Zulay Henao) and Kendra (Sarah Habel). In keeping with the best known legal activity in Las Vegas, the club members incorporate gambling into the framework of torture and dismemberment giving a frighteningly new twist to the expression ‘all in.'
The film was directed by Scott Spiegel who has been establishing a career helming horror flick sequels. This film has been diluted from its predecessors perhaps in response to the moral objections then generated. Hopefully, it is just the sub-genre running out of the stream. Dedicated aficionados of torture porn will be disappointed with this installment. There are a few shockingly disgusting scenes, but the emphasis on the torture methodology has diminished. Anyone expecting the slack taken up with character development or plot will also be disenchanted. One aspect that was possible in the first two films is no longer possible considering the alteration in format. American tourists in a far away country permitted the added theme of being cut off from any possible assistance. This at least utilized the traditional horror trope of isolation. It is an element of gothic horror that is greatly lessened in this outing. At least the disdain for those that use their extravagant wealth only for selfish purposes regardless of who they destroy has survived and fits into the current socio-political environment. The bottom line is this flick gives straight to video movies a bad name.
Posted 12/26/11 10/28/2017