This was a fun horror romp that shouldn't have tried to remind people in it's marketing that it was "scarier than Hostel." I say this because...
Sadly, too much of this movie felt like Hostel.
Turistas is the well worn tale of what happens when a group of tourists go to a foreign country. The guys, for the most part, want to shack up with and sample the ladies. The girls, for the most part, seem to have the same designs as the guys. Brazil is the location where this happens in the film but not before things are ominously foreshadowed by the tourists' bus almost going off a cliff. After taking a stroll and finding what seems like a hidden paradise, the tourists forget that they are in the middle of nowhere. They hit the bar and the beach, and after a night of partying wake up to realize that this paradise has been a facade. Realizing they have been drugged, our friendly tourists start wandering around again.
After having some altercations with some locals in a very remote village, the tourists find a friend from the previous night. Intercut with this we realize that their friend is actually working with a man (he tells the group it is his Uncle) who wants these tourists brought to his home alive. After hiking a number of miles, the group decides to relax with a swim. It is here that the person who is both leading and planning to double-cross them gets hurt. They rush him to his Uncle's house and it is here that things turn really grim when said Uncle shows up. Suddenly, we find out why the tourists have been led to this remote area and we as viewers are treated to some pretty unsettling horror scenes.
While not the most original horror film I have ever seen, Turistas captures the traveling mentality and the vulnerability we possess when we find ourselves away from home.
The Bloody Truth: The Special Effects of Turistas
Sadly, Fox sent me a burned copy of this DVD and it only contained this featurette. The disc proper has a commentary track, deleted scenes, and a featurette detailing the underwater production aspects of this film. The Bloody Truth: The Special Effects of Turistas shows a little bit of the aspects of shooting underwater, but the majority of it focuses it's attention on the actual bloodletting. We find out how some of the tricks are done like using foam rocks filled with blood, or having a full sized head pump blood so that it can simulate one of the actors in the cast. I also loved how John Stockwell admitted to being afraid of using effects because he felt if they were done wrong they could hurt the movie. Turistas has plenty of gore and it's pretty darn unsettling.
Widescreen. Since they sent me this movie in a white envelope on a burned DVD, I sadly can't reference the scope of the aspect ratio. All in all I thought things looked pretty good here. Nothing about the picture really blew me away but John Stockwell has a created a very fluid, very fast moving film. He probably did this so that we wouldn't have a chance to focus on some of the implausible elements of this film, but at the same time it is a horror movie. For a director known for handling youth culture-type films, I think he did a great job with his first foray into a new genre.
I don't know what kind of audio they employed on this film (it's that lack of packaging again), but I am going to assume that it is some variety of Dolby. The audio all seemed to be in fine order on this release but the biggest problem I had is that there weren't enough subtitles. Sure they had them on when people were only speaking Portuguese, but I found that too many times they didn't have them going and I wondered if I was missing something.
As I have mentioned, Fox sent this release to me in white envelope so I really can't talk too much about the packaging. Lets just say, I am willing to bet that they put it together so that it maximizes the idea of scantily clad girls with the foreshadowing that they are going to be dismembered in some way. This is just a thought...?
As I was watching Turistas I couldn't help but think about the subtext of this movie. Due to the geopolitical goings on in the world, the US isn't a very popular country right now. I started to wonder if maybe this film was some sort of expression of that. That maybe this is how some Americans who travel are starting to feel. There's this idea, rightly or wrongly, that if you are white then you get certain privileges. This film touches on that but it also gets revenged on the "gringos." This movie touches heavily on the idea of how people travel through countries, they conduct themselves in ways they normally wouldn't (just because they aren't at home) and then they go home and tell people how great these places are to visit.
The problem for Turistas is that very similar ground had already been mined by Hostel. Also, in the latter film the character's ambivalence to their surroundings, the nudity and the violence were already turned up many notches. Sadly, Turistas, which is a very well made film, just seemed like a knock off of that concept. Since Turistas was also tamer in those other areas that probably didn't bode too well for it either.
Turistas was released December 1, 2006.