Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Turistas’

TuristasTuristas (2006) Directed by John Stockwell. Starring Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown. 

My mother-in-law gave me a great book for Christmas last year called Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death. It provides a chronological list of films as well as a written introduction for each decade describing the important themes and styles of horror films released during those years. I keep it by my bedside and just flip the book open to read about some great horror flick. I’ve only seen about half of the films listed and, of course, I’d love to get all three hundred and thirty-three under my belt.

I picked Turistas because it’s one of the films listed. I don’t get why it’s there. They call it a guilty pleasure but I found it a boring, run of the mill entry in the “urbanoia” horror sub-genre, with its misleading portrayal of the locale and natives firmly intact.

Alex (Josh Duhamel), his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde), and her friend Amy (Beau Garrett) are on a backpacking trip through Brazil when their bus wrecks because, you know, Brazilian bus drivers are too busy picking their nose to pay attention to the road. Stranded, they head down to the beach with some fellow travelers where they find the perfect bar to drown their sorrows in drink and half-naked sexy-dancing. Naughty tourists! Time to get your comeuppance from the colorful locals.

They’re drugged, they wake up and panic, they wander through town, and a bunch of not-much happens before they finally end up in a remote house in the jungle where they’re, unbeknownst to them, waiting to have their organs harvested. If you’re concerned that’s a spoiler, don’t worry. It’s made clear early on this is what’s in store for them.

And that’s part of the problem I had with the film. If they had ended up in the house under the conditions they found themselves in (and by the way, it takes way too much time to finally arrive at this middle portion of the film) the suspense and tension might have been more effective if we knew nothing about what was coming. But I guess I can understand why they felt the need to show the villain and state his intent. Organ harvesting could have been a let down if the audience were left in the dark, so to speak, to imagine something much more sinister than a handsome doctor with a scalpel. Since the doctor is such a… doctor… he, of course, has armed, beefy goons to keep the kids in line so there’s not much that’s scary in this so-called horror film.

After the gory but dull operating scene that is the centerpiece of the movie, where the doctor blabs on about his resentment of the exploitation of Brazil by tourists and how this is his opportunity to give back to the people of his country, Turistas devolves into a long escape and chase scene. That might not have been bad in itself if it weren’t so poorly shot and edited. A nighttime chase in the rain through the jungle is a dark, wet blur. There’s an underwater sequence that might have been exciting and suspenseful had they made a more imaginative use of the space but it’s simply people swimming around and sticking their heads into pockets of air.

Did I forget to mention that his movie managed to piss off Brazilians? After all, the message of Turistas seems to be stay away from Brazil because you’re not wanted to begin with and you’ll lose your vital organs. And the bus drivers suck. You might as well skip Turistas and watch City of God instead, not that that movie will make you want to visit Brazil either but at least it has a basis in reality.

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One Response to “Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Turistas’”

  1. […] films to have won an Academy Award. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is listed in the book I’ve mentioned before, Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death, so I can knock another film off that list. The author […]

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