Turistas – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director:
John Stockwell

Cast:
Josh Duhamel….Alex
Melissa George….Pru
Olivia Wilde….Bea
Desmond Askew….Finn
Beau Garrett….Amy
Agles Steib….Kiko
Miguel Lunardi….Zamora

Fox Home Video presents Turistas. Screenplay by Michael Arlen Ross. Running times: 96 minutes for Unrated. 93 minutes for R Rated. Theatrical release Dec. 1, 2006. DVD released March 27, 2007.

The Movie

Have you seen the movie about a bunch of sexy twentysomethings that go on vacation in a foreign country? They don’t want to hit the usual tourist spots so they explore places not visited by the tour buses. They get hot and heavy with the locals. Unfortunately during their hardcore partying, they get drugged. When awoken, they discover their vital organs are being sliced out of their six pack abs? We’re not talking Hostel or Wolf Creek. This is Turistas! Unlike those other two films that took place in Eastern Europe and Australia, this film takes place in Brazil. It tries its hardest to join the ranks of the Vivisection Vacation flicks, but it doesn’t make the cut.

The story has that familiar set up of those aforementioned flicks. A group of kids visit “the real” Brazil and not an Americanized resort in Rio. Their trip turns bad when they become stranded at a remote beach village. They don’t panic since they stumble upon a happening little club full of booze and happening kids. Since this isn’t How to Stuff A Wild Bikini, a sense of evil hovers over the grinding to the beat. All our happy travelers end up passed out. When they wake up they discover their possessions have been stolen. An Australian couple has also vanished. Our brave tourists decide it’s best to get back to civilization. Kiko, a local kid, guides them on a shortcut. But he’s taking them deep into the woods toward a sinister house. He’s part of the harvesting crew. Is he really going to let his new friends get sliced up? Do we really want to see these brats escape without fright?

While the twist for why the locals want their organs is unique, the execution is more painful than watching the fake guts get yanked. The big finale loses intensity as the kids attempt to swim their way to freedom. It’s just too hard to figure out which shape in the murky water is which character. Instead of feeling chills and thrills, you’d rather want the chase to end so you can figure out who you’re watching. While it is easy to blame stereotypical characters for dumbing down the horror genre, this film keeps the characters so “real” that they become bland and disappear into each other. (It’s like trying to remember models on Deal or No Deal.) It also doesn’t help that everyone has a bland short name. Bea, Pru and Amy just come off as interchangeable. I kept forgetting who was Alex’s sister. Simply, there’s no character to these characters.

You’d expect this production would be a notch above the average slasher flick. Director John Stockwell had received raves for Blue Crush and gave us Into the Blue with underwater ab shots of Jessica Alba. By attempting to make this film rise above the stereotypes of the genre, Stockwell and his crew suck the life out of the characters. It’s a miracle they have any blood in their veins by the time Zamora slices them apart.

While billionaire Mark Cuban’s name is listed as a producer of this film, I suspect Turistas was funded by the vacation industry. This is their warning to teens that what they save in avoiding a package tour they’ll lose in kidney function.

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer is pristine. A lot to the scenes appear to be shot with natural light so the film is pushed, but it doesn’t get too grainy. The DVD is a flipper with the R-Rated and Unrated versions on opposite sides. The few minutes of extra footage in the unrated cut involves Finn’s humping a local gal and Amy’s guts.

AUDIO:
The English soundtrack is 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. The Spanish and French soundtracks are in 2.0 Dolby Surround. The commentary track has John Stockwell and producer Kent Kubena. They explain that the bus going over the cliff was a real stunt and not CGI. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.

EXTRAS:

Bloody Truth: The Special Make Up Effects of Turistas (10:02) gives a montage of all the gore shots. The effects crew explains how they made a head that could be smashed open.

Deleted scenes (21:21) has 11 moments that were edited away and not replaced in the Unrated edition. There’s an extended version of the kids frolicking around the waterfall. There’s a sliced moment that explains why Kiko is part of the harvesting crew. It would have helped his character. The “Alternate Ending” is the final standoff. This version is more direct with only Alex and Zamora facing off for the final showdown.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Turistas
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

5
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

5
OVERALL
5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)