Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Josh Duhamel,
Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Agles
Steib, Miguel Lunardi
Director: John Stockwell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: March 27, 2007
“Don't take this personally. If it makes you feel better I'm doing this for a good cause.”
If you took the scenario from Hostel, one of the more brutally effective horror films to come around in the last few years, and placed it in a tropical paradise setting, you’d end up with Turistas. The movie does have some chilling moments, but unlike Eli Roth’s film (not to frequently compare it with), it lacks an intriguing setup and the meaning behind the mass slashing that occurs is a bit unsatisfying. And the graphic scenes of killing and torture don’t have the bite that Roth put in his film.
Then again, Hostel is a tough film to beat when it comes to bloody excess.
I will give the movie this much credit, it does have a unique setting for a horror film. Credit director John Stockwell, the actor turned director who has a love for the tropics. His last two films were the water-based surf drama Blue Crush and the much underrated water-based action thriller Into the Blue. Now he’s applied his love of exotic locations to a contemporary horror film, and the movie does deliver in that regard.
The plot involves a group of tourists who are looking for nothing more than a nice getaway vacation in the sunny tropics of Brazil. Among these fun seekers are Alex (Josh Duhamel) and Bea (Olivia Wilde), Americans who are also brother and sister. Also along for the trip are Bea’s wild partying friend, Amy (Beau Garrett), Pru (Melissa George), an Aussie beauty. Lastly, there’s Finn (Desmond Askew) and Liam (Max Brown), straight from the U.K.
Things don’t start off so great when the bus they are riding takes a steep dive after making a bad turn. They all survive and from that point walk by foot to locate a rumored underground beach party zone. They do find exactly what they’re looking for, but as the partying escalates the tourists seem to all pass out at the same moment after drinking spiked beverages.
They wake up the next morning on the beach to find that not only were they drugged, but robbed as well. In order to find the nearest safe house, they will have to walk a good ten hours through a wilderness area. But what they don’t know, but I’m sure we’ve guessed already at this point, is that they’re being led into one big bloody trap.
And who is masterminding this trap, you ask. Well as it turns out, it leads to one of the more disappointing elements of the movie. It turns out that a mad doctor has been slicing and dicing tourists from all parts of the world. His method of killing is extreme surgery, particularly that of the removal of organs. Apparently, he feels that some don’t appreciate the body parts inside of them. In other words, it appears that the screenwriter took the Jigsaw character from Saw and gave him a PhD from Med School.
And there’s another disappointing element regarding the villains in Turistas, they’re identity is revealed way too early in the film, and upon introduction, this savage group doesn’t seem too menacing. It’s only in the killing scenes later in the film when they appear to be menacing, and by that I mean they recite the same lines you’ve heard in just about every recent horror flick, the “I’m doing this because of blah-blah-blah…” speech.
One of the more surprising letdowns of Turistas is that a great deal of the killing and gore are put on hold until the movie’s final half. This is likely to make a lot of horror movie buffs impatient. When that final half kicks in, it does offer some nice gruesome moments, but compare that to recent fare such as The Descent and the Saw movies. They got underway with the bloody goods at early stages. Even Hostel, in which the first half of the movie is almost nothing but T and A, kicked in the gore at just the right moment.
I guess I’ve seen everything that Turistas has to offer in too many other good fright flicks, and well made ones at that. I give the film credit for its exotic settings and the intense climatic moments. However, they’re should’ve been a lot more to offer in between.
Fox’s anamorphic transfer is a truly decent looking presentation, especially when you consider the number of sequences taking place in the darkest of settings. Image quality is clear and crisp as expected. Some slight edge enhancement is noticeable but nothing too distracting. For the most part, a superb presentation.
The 5.1 mix delivers as expected for this type of movie. From the sounds provided by the jungle settings to the tense scenes of horror in the final half, this is one sound mix that does manage to crank up the tension. Music playback and dialogue delivery are also at top notch quality.
Included is a commentary track with director John Stockwell and producer Kent Kubena, as well as Deleted Scenes and an Effects Featurette.
Horror films usually deliver what one expects, but in the case of Turistas it really is too much of a been-there-done-that affair. Better pacing and character development would’ve helped this one out a lot, in addition.