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'Turistas' a Bad Horror Vacation
In the year of 'Hostel,' there's no room for this junk
Brian Orndorf (briano)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-02 10:42 (KST)   
At the risk of coming off as completely and unapologetically inarticulate: "Turistas" is dumb.

Of course, the film isn't dumb in terms of intelligence; this is a horror film after all, the genre where everything is forgiven as long as the wet red flows. No, "Turistas" is dumb in the graceless way it goes about its body count business. It's the newest film from John Stockwell, the director of the tedious "crazy/beautiful," the unintentionally hilarious "Blue Crush," and my personal choice for the sixth worst film of 2005, "Into the Blue."

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That is not a filmography, my friends. It's criminal intent.

Traveling through South America on their way to an adventurous vacation, a group of international tourists (including Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, and Desmond Askew) barely escape death in a bus accident, and find themselves stranded at a beachside village for the day. Embracing the culture by partying with the locals, the group soon finds themselves drugged, robbed, and alone. Seeking aid in a remote house, the horror mounts when they learn what the owner has in store for them behind the guise of paradise.

There's no two ways about it: "Turistas" is a monumentally derivative production. Stockwell is eager to jump on the current horror bandwagon with this motion picture, but he can't leave his old habits behind. For starters, "Turistas" provides the filmmaker plenty of opportunity to pursue his favorite activity: ogling. Nothing snaps this filmmaker to attention faster than the promise of young, golden flesh. While the actors and actresses are a little older than Stockwell's usual casts, the picture still takes its time to drink in their cleavages and abs.

Further the plot? Develop rounded characters to better embrace their life-threatening situation? Nonsense! Stockwell would rather have 9,000 shots of George in a bikini than be caught dead telling a story.

That I would even suggest that there is an actual plot to "Turistas" is giving screenwriter Michael Ross far too much credit. This is the same film where, after being drugged and bloodied, robbed of every last possession, and chased by machete-wielding madmen, the tourists decide to take up an offer from a local to go spelunking on their way to shelter. Logic isn't exactly BFF with "Turistas," but oddly, neither is entertainment; the carousel of torture and gore comes off as old news in the wake of the inexplicable success of films such as "Saw" and "Hostel." All "Turistas" can do is put a pink cocktail umbrella in the formula.

©2006 Fox Atomic

Even if you do buy into the premise and the nightmare of international hopelessness, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to see what's going on. For the final round of revenge and potential escape, Stockwell instructs cinematographer Enrique Chediak to paint it black. And I mean black as in none more black. It's bad enough to have fight the movie to understand who the characters are and what purpose they serve outside of sacrificial offerings, but when the havoc finally hits, you can't see a damn thing....

The whole resolution of the film is reduced to an overactive sound design and incomprehensible editing to feel its way around. It's almost like listening to a radio program during this final 20 minute act.

John Stockwell was once an actor. In 1983, he starred in John Carpenter's "Christine;" now there's a horror director to emulate and learn from. I can't believe Stockwell has chosen to ignore his roots to service the latest, gutless script that gushes blood, but lacks even a strand of true artistic expression. It wouldn't have killed this film to at least try for a distinct personality.

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Brian Orndorf

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