Directed by John Stockwell
Produced by Marc Butan, Scott Steindorff, John Stockwell, Bo Zenga
Written by Michael Arlen Ross
Director of Photograpy Enrique Chediak
Music by Paul Haslinger
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett
2006/96 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD
Some movies could be considered as travelogues for foreign locales. Who hasn't wanted to travel to Venice after seeing it in a movie? (Such as the recent CASINO ROYALE.) I can remember as a child my sister dying to visit Austria after seeing THE SOUND OF MUSIC. But, have you ever seen a movie which had the opposite effect? This is the case with TURISTAS, which should have been titled "Don't Visit Brazil!"
The action in TURISTAS begins on a bus which is traveling up a winding road somewhere in the heart of Brazil. Here, we meet Alex (Josh Duhamel) who is traveling with his sister, Bea (Olivia Wilde) and her friend, Amy (Beau Garrett). When the driver fails to navigate a curve correctly, the bus rolls off of a cliff -- luckily all of the passengers manage to scramble off of the bus. While assessing the situation, Alex meets Pru (Melissa George), an Australian tourist, as well as two Brits, Finn (Desmond Askew) and Liam (Max Brown). The group learns that a bar is nearby, and when they investigate, they find a beautiful beach. They decide that they'd rather party than wait for the next bus.
Upon awakening the next morning, they find that they've been robbed. Kiko (Agles Steiv), a local who speaks some English, offers to help the group. Following an unpleasant visit to a adjacent village, Kiko takes the group into the jungle, insisting that he can lead them to safety. But, even Kiko can't imagine the horrors which lie ahead for this group of foreign travelers.
TURISTAS is one of those odd movies which wants to exist in several genres at once. The first few scenes in the movie offer a mild sense of foreboding, mostly due to the language barrier between the main characters and the locals, but the partying and one very brief nude scene point this film in the direction of a salacious romp. Once the group learns that they've been robbed, the movie takes on a decidedly darker tone -- turning into a sort of "stranger in a strange land" story. But, this has more of a socio-political feel than anything else. It's only in the last 30 minutes does TURISTAS slip into territory which I would truly call horror, and the shift is jarring. Is it effective? Not really, as the sudden shift may be took much for many audience members to take. Save for a very brief pre-credit sequence, where it's hard to tell exactly what's happening, TURISTAS gives us little warning for what the last act of the movie will be like.
The movie to movie most viewers will compare TURISTAS is HOSTEL, and that comparison is apt. Both movies feature horny tourists who go to a foreign country in search of a good time. But, with HOSTEL, you knew what you were getting in to, and more importantly, the movie knew what it wanted to be (more or less). With TURISTAS, I got the sense that first-time screenwriter Michael Arlen Ross was falling back on his experience as an editor and trying to piece together a movie which draws from many influences. The result is garbled and ultimately unsatisfying. The movie is filled with unlikable characters, some of whom admit that they were warned to not visit Brazil! Thus, it's hard to care about them. The ending attempts to tack on a political reason for the proceedings, but it feels like a lame excuse to show scenes, which in the unrated cut at least, are far more gruesome than anything in HOSTEL.
TURISTAS was directed by John Stockwell, who DVD Crypt readers will no doubt know as Dennis from CHRISTINE. Stockwell has garnered a reputation for shooting movies in beautiful locales, such as BLUE CRUSH and INTO THE BLUE, and TURISTAS is no exception. The film (which was apparently shot in Brazil...how'd they get away with that?) features lush jungles and several scenes which take place in some amazing underwater caves. Yet, Stockwell apparently didn't learn much from John Carpenter about suspense. The movie may be heavy on gore, but it's never scary, creepy, suspenseful, or involving in any way.
Has the Brazilian Board of Tourism seen TURISTAS? The movie falls into that "travelers beware" sub-genre inhabited by films like HOSTEL and WRONG TURN, but I don't think I've ever seen one of these movies which so openly name-checked the country in which the horrible events were occurring. Some viewers may get a kick out of the horrors inflicted upon the tourists, but I found most of the movie to be fairly standard and somewhat dull. If nothing else, it was nice to see Desmond Askew, who was so funny in GO, in a role where he wasn't buried under latex, as he was in THE HILLS HAVE EYES.
TURISTAS gets its passport stamped for DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks good, as the image is sharp and clear. This is most noticeable during the daytime scenes on the beach. However, I did notice considerable pixellation during some shots -- this may have been due to the fact that I was watching a screener copy and not the final release version. The colors looked very good, and the greens of the forest contrasted well with the blues featured in the underwater scenes. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track was impressive as well, as it features clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and there was one or two good moments of bass response. However, it's the surround sound effects which stand out here, most notably those heard in the jungle scenes.
The TURISTAS DVD features the unrated cut of the film, which runs about 2 minutes longer than the R-rated theatrical cut. (I didn't see the film in theaters, so I can't comment on the differences.) The DVD contains several extras. "The Bloody Truth: The Special Make-up Effects of TURISTAS" is a 10-minute featurette in which Todd Masters and Michael Manzel talk about their prosthetic work in the film. There is lots of behind-the-scene shots of the make-up being created. The DVD also contains an AUDIO COMMENTARY and DELETED SCENES, but these weren't included on the copy which I received.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©