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TURISTAS: UNRATED EDITION (2006)
Published by Guest on 2007/6/15 (1507 reads)
Directed by John Stockwell
Review by David Carter
Released by 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 92 minutes
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo English, 2.0 French or Spanish/English or Spanish Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2.35:1
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: Special effects featurette
Trailer Online: Yes
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, horror movies are far and away the most flattering of all the film genres. Rarely is a horror film successful without a crop of films popping up shortly after that are clearly “inspired” by the original film. THE SIXTH SENSE spawned several movies dealing with the supernatural for several years following its initial release. When the FRIDAY THE 13TH series was at its peak, a masked killer stalking teens in the woods was practically a requirement for horror films. It’s not just the US market, Asian horror may be the biggest offender with films like RINGU and JU-ON having been practically remade verbatim several times over. Many horror fans knew they could expect the same after the success of Eli Roth’s 2005 film HOSTEL. They didn’t have to wait long either, as 2006 saw the release of similarly themed TURISTAS. Is it just an imitator or an entertaining film in its own right?
Alex is begrudgingly chaperoning his sister Bea and her friend Amy’s trip to Brazil. Against his wishes, they opted to take a rickety bus to their next destination rather than a more expensive flight. They should have listened to Alex, since the bus almost drives off of a cliff and they are stranded with a ten-hour wait for the next ride. They do meet up with some fellow English-speakers in the form of Brits Liam and Finn and Australian beauty Pru. The six instantly bond and agree to head to a nearby bar they’ve heard about while they wait. Once they arrive they find a never-ending party on a beautiful beach, so naturally they decide to skip the next bus in favor of partying with the locals. Pru speaks some Portuguese so she acts as the group’s translator and introduces them to Kiko, a friendly Brazilian teen with a tenuous grasp of basic English. The party lasts until the wee hours of the morning and the group groggily wakes up the next morning to find that all of their money, luggage, and passports have been stolen. They walk to the nearest village but wind up in more trouble after they accost some children in an attempt to get their things back. Luckily Kiko shows up and promises to lead them to safety with a several hour hike through the jungle to his Uncle’s house. Shortly before they arrive at their destination, Kiko warns them that his Uncle’s house is bad place and they’d be better off taking their chances with the angry villagers. The group won’t hear of it after the arduous hike, so they press on toward the home not knowing the horrors that are waiting there for them.
Granted, the “American tourists running into trouble” plot of TURISTAS was likely cribbed from HOSTEL. However, HOSTEL certainly wasn’t the first film to use the motif of venturing into the unknown and it having disastrous consequences; a plot device dating back to fairy tales and mythology. TURISTAS’ plot hinges on the same devices as HOSTEL’s, and yet TURISTAS is in some ways more effective. Chiefly, TURISTAS develops a more plausible scenario for the characters to fall victim to. The characters also act in a more realistic manner and are on the whole more likeable than HOSTEL’s protagonists. This added dose of reality gives the film a greater impact in the viewers’ minds. When the characters are making choices and behaving in a way that you can identify with it makes their eventual fates than much more meaningful and horrifying. Also missing is the occasional heavy-handedness with which HOSTEL portrayed it’s message. Ultimately, TURISTAS is not attempting to make a statement about American attitudes or Brazil. The villain’s motivation, revenge for American greed and oppression, is completely separate from the film’s motivation, which is simply to entertain. It was a good choice on the part of the filmmakers. Had the film attempted to inject more social commentary it would have no doubt been less successful.
TURISTAS is available in an “Unrated Version” from 20th Century Fox. This unrated cut is slightly longer and has more sex and gore than the version shown in theaters. As you’d expect from Fox, the DVD presentation is very well done. The print of the film is great and the aspect ratio will look especially good on Widescreen televisions. As a bonus feature they’ve included a look at the film’s impressive special effects.
Don’t be too quick to judge imitators. Some, like TURISTAS, are well done films and have their own merits. This film is a good example of what makes horror so effective. The film is aimed at viewers under thirty so it is very easy for the target audience to put themselves in the places of the characters. By identifying with them, the viewer is forced to imagine that the same fate could happen to them. That’s a far more terrifying experience than simple “shock” scares.
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