Vern Reviews TURISTAS!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

As I sit here putting together today’s updates, it is always a bonus pleasure when Vern sends me something to post. Today is no exception.

Trust no one. Anywhere. Except Vern.

This week’s horror movie is called TURISTAS (Portuguese for ‘Hostel’). It’s another story of young good looking backpackers whose vacations go badly due to bodily mutilation, etc. A crowded bus swerves to miss some asshole kids with surfboards and falls off a cliff. Luckily everybody gets out in time. The next bus won’t be for ten hours so some of the English-speakers band together and find a cool beachfront bar where they dance, make new friends, meet women and have such a good time they decide to ditch the bus.

TuristasSo the vacation has taken a lucky turn, right? WRONG. We know this bar is too good to be true, not just because we’ve seen movies before, but because the movie lets us hear the bartender calling a local doctor and telling him she has some more gringoes for him. And I don’t think she means for him to give them their annual exam. When they wake up in the morning they’ve been drugged and robbed, and their new Swedish friends are gone. They’re in a foreign land where most of them don’t speak the language. They have no way home, no money, no passports, and some little kids are wearing their clothes. It could be worse though, the doctor could’ve planned better and had them all transported to the remote cabin where he plans to take out their kidneys, instead of leaving them on the beach far from the operating table. But don’t worry, he’ll get them there.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like tourists either. Even here in Seattle we get invaded by the fuckers. Whatever city you’re in, you can probaly relate. Here they got this thing called “Ride the Ducks,” an amphibious tour boat/car thing. If you’re walking peacefully downtown and you hear either “YMCA” or “Brick House” blaring and a bunch of assholes blowing on kazoos, you know they’re coming. I don’t know what exactly they’re getting a tour of, it’s a regular city with people walking down sidewalks. I’m not a zebra, I’m just a dude going to the Adidas Store or whatever. And traditional family values prevents you from flipping them off or yelling “go fuck yourself” cause there’s kids on that thing.

Or what about Pike Place Market? You want to take that piss-smelling stairway to cut down to the waterfront, or you need those little donuts the punk rock kids make. But there’s one thing blocking your path: a crowd of a hundred dipshits waiting at the fish stand. For them to throw fish.

There’s no show here, people. There’s no puppets or nothin. It’s some guys passing fish back and forth. What is so god damn fascinating about a guy tossing a fish to another guy? I know, I know, it’s famous, they got it on postcards, Spike Lee put it in a Levis commercial once. So what? Boy’s Town Nebraska has the world’s largest ball of stamps, but I doubt they get as many jackasses pissing themselves over that, despite it being an undeniably more impressive achievement than one guy throwing a fish and another guy catching the fish. Unless it is some kind of giant or super-intelligent fish, which it is not.

So yes, I hate the fucking tourists. But even I wouldn’t cut them open and steal their organs. Would I want to? Yes. Would I maybe prep them for surgery? Perhaps. But would I go through with it? No. You gotta draw a line and in my opinion (not to be too preachy but) cutting out a tourist’s organs is going too far. Especially if you’re going to sell them. Because then you have to ask yourself whether it’s really your passion for killing tourists that is driving you or whether you’re just in it for the money. Money poisons the well, I think. This guy, I’m not clear if he’s getting money for the organs, but in his defense he does have a passion for it. He says that rich white people come to Brazil to steal kidneys from the poor, so he is taking some back. You know, to balance things out. The yin and the yang, the circle of life, the bare necessities and all that shit.

I’m making the movie sound real fuckin dumb, and so did the trailers. But the truth is it’s surprisingly decent. It’s directed by John Stockwell, the actor who was in CHRISTINE and now directs movies about surfing and swimming and shit. The acting is pretty good, the photography is nice, there’s only moderate level of bickering, the characters are touristy enough to be organ-bandit-bait but reasonable enough that you root for them to get away. They’re not obnoxious frat boys like in HOSTEL. There’s not alot of jokes and no references to pop culture or other movies. Some of the tension scenes are well done, particularly some long underwater cave sequences sort of reminiscent of THE DESCENT (but without the benefit of weird underground fuckers [or WUFs]). Aside from the opening credits there’s not a single frame that will remind you of this “nu horror” style. And the whole movie has a more-realistic-than-most-horror-movies approach. I didn’t feel insulted like I do by alot of the modern studio horror. The themes are handled with some subtlety. Nobody points out how all the white survivors of the bus crash instinctively segregate themselves and go off together. You got 8 white people in Brazil and only one bothered to learn Portuguese. (The main guy has to be told they’re speaking Portuguese, not Spanish – a rare bit of explaining to us idiots in the audience). There’s also a collaborator with the organ bandits who is learning English, and by actually talking to the gringoes he starts to sympathize with them. While the bad guys chase them they speak un-subtitled Portuguese, so most of us, like the characters, don’t know what they’re up to. I was thinking of seeing BABEL but I don’t think I need to now that I saw this one.

So it’s a much better movie than I expected, but ultimately it’s not good enough. I think it’s too classy for its own good. I like that it’s a smart take on this type of movie, but it’s not all that fun (and not because it’s too grim or anything). When they try to escape there’s some tension, but it doesn’t have that visceral kick of, say WOLF CREEK. The characters are more likable than the pricks in HOSTEL, but what they go through (while more believable) isn’t as compelling, isn’t as cinematic. Also since most of the action takes place in the dark and in the rain it’s hard to see what’s going on, exactly.

But the biggest problem is that the villains aren’t colorful enough. If you made them into monsters it would be kind of racist, so they seem more like action movie villains, and not particularly memorable ones. And that’s a cardinal sin in a horror movie. I think, but I’m not totally sure what a cardinal sin is because I’m not catholic. If it’s a bad sin then that’s what this is, having a bland villain is a bad sin. I’m against it.

In fact, although I enjoyed the movie okay, the most memorable part of the screening was the simple and to the point teaser trailer for THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2. I don’t think they’re gonna have motorbikes or a dog flashback like the original part 2, but it will probaly be faithful to the original in that it will suck. As a teaser though I give it an A+, and TURISTAS should take note: you need some big weird dudes with barb wire on their legs or something if you want me to have a good time.

If you got this far without skipping anything I’m proud of you so I will answer the questions you were gonna post in the talkback. Boobs: two, briefly. Wait, four I think. Ass shots: yes, not naked though. Gore: yes, you got some nasty surgery, but mostly confined to one sequence. This is going for respectable though, more “thriller” than horror. Underwater mutants or shark attacks: sorry, zero.

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30831

View the archived Ain't-It-Cool-News Talkback
This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 at 2:03 am and is filed under AICN, Horror, Mystery, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “Vern Reviews TURISTAS!!”

  1. I saw this in theaters for some reason, I wasn’t impressed

  2. I watched this the other night at 1 in the morning when I was pretty drunk and a lot of the stuff in this review is news to me.

  3. this is a great review though

  4. Saw this on Prime. Good review, but solidly mid-tier movie. My largest take-away was “Is it really some strange foreign custom that it’s rude to take a picture of someone’s kid without their parents’ permission?” And maybe it’s because I watched the Extended Edition, but the storytelling is constantly shooting itself in the foot. We know from the flash-forward in the beginning that there’s some medical horror shit, we keep getting little cutaways to the bad guys planning nasty things for the hardbodies, so you spend just about the entire movie ahead of the characters, just waiting and waiting and waiting for forty-five minutes until they finally get down to business. There’s at least a little gore and nudity to keep you awake in the meantime, but you still really only get half a movie’s worth of horror shit.

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