Director: John Stockwell | 89 minutes | action, drama, horror, thriller, adventure | Actors: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi, Jorge Só, Cristiani Aparecida, Lucy Ramos, Andréa Leal, Diego Santiago, Marcão, Miguelito Acosta
Director John Stockwell is known for his films set in and around the water, with naturally graceful young ladies in the lead roles. In ‘Blue Crush’ Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez paraded around in swimwear, and in ‘Into the Blue’ Jessica Alba was allowed to wriggle through the screen in slow motion and wearing a tiny bikini in various underwater scenes. With ‘Turistas’, a horror film in the ‘tradition’ of ‘Hostel’, Stockwell is indeed entering a new genre, but his favorite elements are also discernible in this film. There are plenty of half-naked, tanned bodies again, the horrors in the film take place on the Brazilian coast, and there are even some underwater scenes. And although not everything is equally in place in the movie,
What is the greatest achievement of Stockwell is conveying the recognizable atmosphere of the situation (s) of the tourists from the title. The film comes across less purposeful and straightforward than ‘Hostel’ as there is more of a sense here that the tourists really end up in these horrific circumstances by chance. The viewer, together with the tourists, is surprised and experiences all fun and less pleasant events together with them. These youngsters just went on a trip to Brazil completely randomly to enjoy the sun, sea, beaches, and beautiful people. The fact that a few psychopaths happened to be living at the spot where they stranded (by means of an exciting bus accident), they could not have foreseen and is therefore a case of bad luck; to say the least.
The culture clashes and the helpless feeling you can have in a foreign country are also made tangible in the first half of the film. The tourists do not know the culture and the language and then have to find someone who can and wants to help them when all luggage and valuables have been stolen from the tourists after a heavy party night. Just see in a strange village and in an unfamiliar language, making it clear what the problem is and getting someone to help.
However, as soon as the genre requirements come into play, the film loses its own character and credibility, and you have to wait for the moments when (a few) main characters are cut to pieces. Or something to that effect. And then when the conscious scenes of tension and horror fail very much to frighten the viewer – apart from a few unpleasant and stressful situations – there is little left in the film to provide a recommendation.
The film still tries to justify its gruesome acts somewhat within a socially critical philosophy, but the objections regarding the exploitation of Brazil by the West come across quite empty from the mouth of the villain in the film. And of course everything is an excuse for showing explicit horrors, in this case a somewhat unsavory medical procedure.
The chase scenes in the last act of the film are unfortunately for the most part confusing and not very compelling. The underwater escape attempts are also fairly chaotic (and also somewhat strangely placed within the film), but this hobbyhorse of the director does provide some claustrophobic moments, in which the viewer almost imagines himself in the water, gasping for air. A nice find is to let the “heroes” get oxygen from air bubbles that stick to the rocks under water. They are small additions that still ensure that the film stays with the viewer, even if the film does not succeed enough to captivate the viewer in the crucial area of tension and horror.