Turistas is the first film from 20th Century Fox’s new “youth-oriented” division Fox Atomic. If Turistas is symptomatic of what they’ll be offering, “youth-oriented” apparently means violent, gory, rated-R torture movies. Well, that’s not really fair. The film takes quite awhile to get to the violence and gore; before that it’s mostly excessive drinking and gratuitously exposed boobs. Hi kids!
A group of gorgeous early twenty-somethings is on vacation in Brazil. Their tour bus crashes in the middle of the jungle, leaving them to fend for themselves until someone comes by with another one. Things seem alright though. They discover a beautiful, out of the way beach complete with a rocking bar and a sexually liberated singles scene. After a night of wild partying, they wake up penniless and only partially clothed. They’ve all been drugged and robbed. Things aren’t looking up.
The whole group wanders into a tiny, nearby village. There’s the protective brother Alex (Josh Duhamel), his sister Bea (Olivia Wade) and her friend Amy (Beau Garrett), a single female backpacker named Pru (Melissa George), a pair of soccer hooligans, and a local boy named Kiko (Agles Steib) who befriends and decides to help them. He offers to take them through the jungle to his Uncle’s house, where he says they’ll be safe from the looters in the village. They agree, and finally some 45 minutes into the only 92 minute film, after a little more swimming and frolicking, something starts to happen. They’re stalked by a crazy doctor with a hunger for their organs. What’s left of the movie is spent on their escape, not that it matters since you’ll already have a pretty good idea of who will make it out.
Turistas is thoroughly predictable. Every move is telegraphed long before it happens, there’s not a scene in the movie that you can’t see coming. It does however differentiate itself from the torture movie wave it’s riding by delaying its gore fetish feeding until later in the film. Before then it focuses on showing of the beautiful scenery of Brazil and the tanned bodies of its cast frolicking in it. At least it’s pretty.
The film’s star Josh Duhamel is pretty too, but he’s also a decent actor. If there’s a bright spot in the movie aside from its lush foliage, it’s Duhamel. He’s a step better than the other vapid lookers stuck in the movie with him. Maybe it’s his age, he’s well into his thirties and playing a protective older brother in his twenties. The result is a little something more behind his eyes than you’ll find with all the others. It probably also helps that when everyone else is engaging in the usual stupid tourist horror movie character clichés, his character is the only one with any sense.
As more torture porn in the genre of Saw and Hostel, Turistas is a failure. It just takes too long to get the point and then when it gets there it languishes on the sick brutality people seem to love just long enough to make the audience retch, only to drift into a well-shot, but completely ill-fitting cave diving sequence. Maybe they should have just foregone the whole slice and dice premise and made a movie about exploiting the all too real American fear of being hated by people in other countries. That’s something to be afraid of. Americans are hated and loathed everywhere, you never know when a trip to the beach might end up in being beheaded on Al Jazeera. Alas, the movie doesn’t properly exploit that. The film has its highs and lows but for the most part, as its tagline suggests, Turistas made me want to go home.