While we’re on lockdown, I’ll be working on a series of retrospectives as I watch through my library. Many will be films I love but I may veer into less favorable territory from time to time to keep things interesting. I hope you all are all staying safe out there. Next up on my quarantine re-watch list is the 2006 horror flick, Turistas. Keep reading for my musings. Some spoilers (for a 14-year old movie) ahead.
The first thing that strikes me about Michael Ross’s screenplay for Turistas is that it appears to be fairly derivative of Hostel. It bowed at the tail end of 2006, with Hostel being put out at the very beginning of the same year. Given the close proximity of their release dates, it’s hard to say if the likeness is intentional or mere coincidence. The setup for both films is nearly identical: American tourists in a foreign country are lured to a remote location by a seemingly kind stranger. Said stranger then gains their trust and promises to deliver exactly what the visitors are looking for. The key difference between the two films being that Hostel sees the tourists led to an organization where patrons kill for sport; while in Turistas, the travelers are taken to an organ harvesting ring.
Although Turistas bears striking similarities to Hostel, it lacks the grotesque nature of Eli Roth’s torture opus. However, that’s not a criticism of Turistas. The film has some graphic sequences but it shows a certain amount of restraint when compared to some of the gorier output from its era. Unfortunately, his restraint is one of the only things I can really commend director John Stockwell on.
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Similarities to Hostel aside, Turistas maintains a somewhat slow stride. The killings don’t really start until the third act. And considering that the characters aren’t terribly endearing, this makes the first two acts a bit dicey to sit through.
Another thing that put me off a bit was the absence of a final scare. A final scare is customary in horror cinema and leaving it out was a gross oversight. It doesn’t really matter if Stockwell was trying to be different or simply aiming to please mainstream audiences. Not having a final scare is inexcusable.
After the absence of a final scare, the film transitions to a happy ending and that’s that. Horror movies give viewers the chance to see the ugly side of life, So, to tie one up this neatly is a bit of a slap in the face to seasoned genre fans.
All things considered, the film is fairly forgettable. It’s not a bad movie; it just doesn’t do any one thing exceedingly well. The performances are ok. The kill scenes aren’t awful. The pacing is less than abysmal. And there are some nicely photographed shots of the picturesque Brazilian beaches. But there isn’t really anything about the picture that has a definite wow factor to it.