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Hotel Inferno 3: Castle of Screams (2020)

Once again, we return to the the Hellish landscapes of Hotel Inferno - the third entry in Frank's Journey as he tries to escape the clutches of Hell to reunite his soul with his body. This is a film series that came as a huge surprise to me upon my discovery of part one, now three films in and the franchise has taken to a winter backdrop for more of the blood splatter and gore filled carnage that these are so well know for. However, three films in, can this still maintain that level of curiosity and excitement? With this entry, we are introduced to a change of voice actor for the Witch, changing from male voice actor to voice actress Sarah T. Cohen. Personally, I think she does a much better job in this role than the previous incarnation. There is an acknowledgement of the voice change as the films begins, something I did find quite humorous. However, if I'm being honest, I really don't think I would have noticed the change. The voice acting has never been a strong or memorable point in these films. It’s certainly not the reason I keep coming back. We do unfortunately have Rayner Bourton back for his third run as Frank. He seems much more palatable here, yet by this point I guess I'm I’m just able to tolerate him more. In this installment, we see Frank take on a much different location to what we are used to from these films. Everything up until this point has been very much fire and brimstone, so seeing things move to a much colder and snow centric set designs was a nice change. This does come with a compromise though, as the set design feels nowhere near as creative or elaborate as the second. One of the biggest stand outs for me in part two was the depiction on Hell and the set design that was used to create it. Unfortunately here, things do feel a lot more underwhelming in comparison. There are some beautifully shot location scenes used when outside of the cave, however this wasn't enough to warrant such a large contrast between the two installments. It is clear by this point that the franchise is leaning heavily into making these films feel like live action video games. There seems to have been more time spent on weapon design, side quests and the use of teleportation from location to location. These are all tropes you would find in more recent open world games and certainly help make this feel more grounded in the direction it’s heading. With the addition of the musical score by Razzaw, once again, it's really easy to make clear comparisons to this and video game Doom. It's very fast-paced and very metal guitar driven. The creature design is a lot more expensive than what we have come to know from these films previously. I think this is to the films detriment though, bigger isn't always better, especially considering these films all appear to be running on the same budget as the first. The more creative these designs become, the lower quality the make up effects seem to be. This is a series that prides itself on low budget effects, so I can help but feel this is almost intentional. It is actually something that doesn't bother me, I’m just appreciative that it's all done practically. I will always have a soft spot for something that has been created via makeup or puppetry rather that digitally edited in post-production, regardless of how poor the quality is. I had so much admiration for what the first Hotel Inferno film had set out to achieve. I found it so unique and nothing like anything I had yet encountered within the genre. However, we are now at the third entry in the series and if I'm being completely honest, I'm beginning to feel that the premise is becoming tired. That doesn't mean I liked this any less than previous entries, it just isn't that much different and I'm just concerned at the longevity of the franchise, unless it manages to do something substantially different in order to keep these entries feeling fresh. If you are still here by this point you no doubt know what you are getting yourself into, if you didn't like parts 1 and 2 then you are not going to find anything worthy of your time in this either.



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