Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Go Home: Turistas (2006)

Turistas (2006) (AKA "Paradise Lost")
Rating: ***
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George and Olivia Wilde

Around mid-2000s, the horror scene seems to had a small trend going on with tourists being terrorized by malicious people as seen in the likes of Eli Roth's Hostel movies and the infamous Ozploitation cult classic Wolf Creek (2005). Hot on this bloody hike trail was a little affair set in Brazil wherein a group of turistas must survive the dark and gritty side of paradise.

After a narrow escape from being potential bus crash casualties caused by a speedy driver and a very steep drop off a cliff, friends Bea and Amy, Bea’s chaperoning older brother Alex, Australian backpacker Pru and a pair of British buddies Finn and Liam decided to stroll down to a nearby beach bar after being notified that the next bus won't be around for another 10 hours. The place looks and feels legit enough for our newly acquainted gang to loosen up and have fun, drinking til' night time after a day of swimming, playing soccer with local children and hooking-up with Brazilian hotties. 

The movie, though, makes no attempt to hide the fact shit's about to go down when a barmaid secretly phones a shady doctor after doing a headcount on the foreigners. Morning comes and not only do our gang find out they were drugged unconscious that night, but all of their belongings were also stolen. Now stranded with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they wander into the nearest town hoping to find help, which they eventually did with Kiko, a local man they met a day prior at the beach. 

Kiko agrees to lead them to another man named Zamora who lives up in a jungle-set private house and appears to have enough connections and money to help them out of their predicament. Things only go for worse from this point as halfway into their journey, Kiko injures himself severely, thus leaving the group to hobble him up to Zamora's residence where they find out the man operates an organ harvesting ring, thus he has no intention at all on letting them leave Brazil alive.

Though low-key, the slasher elements in Turistas (2006) are present in the sense that the villains aren't shy on keeping the kill count stabby once in a while and, too, that the film has some pretty decent stalking scenes thrown here and there. It's not very often we get a slasher movie set deep in a dense tropical jungle, so it is refreshing to see this film make a fair attempt incorporating the deadly cat-and-mouse trope the subgenre is well known for with the scenic backdrop of Brazil's sandy beaches and forested wilderness. 

These facts aside, however, the overall feel of the movie leans much closer to a crime thriller laced with a horror aftertaste and medical nightmares; though Turistas (2006) has its brutal and shocking moments (particularly the demise of a Swedish couple and one unfortunate henchmen's bad end with a wooden skewer), is noticeably restrained as it exchanges most of the stomach-churning exploitative horror elements with a bigger emphasis on survivalist ventures, by-the-book vivisections and our leads' escape from their captors, not much unlike our boys back in Hostel (2005)'s fictionalized Bratislava. For what it is, the movie is a passable survival thriller, tight in tension and sparing some moments of realism even if it's still unable to escape a few parts being mediocre and predictable, which hinders the ramifications of the threat as a whole. 

Turistas (2006) would certainly have fared better, too, if it took the time to work out its premise, perhaps flesh out its characters further than the cardboard cut-outs that we have here. As expected for a movie dealing with stereotyped representations, the film is unsurprisingly bashed with controversy around Brazil for how it depicted its citizens as well. The resulting product, by the grace of it all, could have been way worse nonetheless and I would be lying if I say I didn't enjoy Turistas (2006) as a small guilty pleasure. 

1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 female ran off a cliff, falls to her death
1 male gets a wooden skewer forced into his eye
1 female operated on and disemboweled
1 male stabbed to death with a machete
1 male shot on the head with a rifle
1 male killed offscreen
1 male shot on the neck
1 male repeatedly stabbed on the neck with an arrow
1 male beaten with a rock, shot on the head with a rifle
Total: 10

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