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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Turistas

I just saw the new “horror” movie Turistas at the Essex Cinemas and I have to say that the only thing “horror-ible” about it is that this is what passes for “horror” today. Maybe the boys in the audience will be quaking because it involves a bit of forced restraint and non-elective surgery to a bunch of mostly-naked hard bodied tourists visiting south-of-the-border Brazil, but there’s not a woman out there will blink twice. We’ve all been mostly-naked and experienced our own nightmares south-of-the-border thanks to Brazil. It’s called the Brazilian Wax, and after one of these a woman realizes that whatever torture is displayed on screen in a movie is mere kid’s stuff by comparison. Trust me. Anyone’s who’s experienced the one-two-three yank! of a Brazilian Wax knows that the nightmares in Hostel or any of its many knockoffs, like Turistas, is just more of the same. It even put me off going to Mardi Gras in Rio last year despite the bleating of my perfect hubby, Fred, who wanted to whisk me away on a whirlwind second honeymoon for the annual festival. I wanted to go, I really did, but I imagined myself with a tutti frutti Carmen Miranda-inspired turban and platform wedgies, dancing the Conga with gay abandon before being suddenly kidnapped by kidney-stealing cocaine-snorting guerillas and forced to be their sex-slave until they sold off all my organs one by one through on-line auctions and then dissected me during a live streaming video pay per view event on the Internet. Either that or they’d send me to a back-country cosmetology school and let the students there practice their Brazilian Waxing techniques on me until I looked liked a gigantic microwaved piece of bacon.

That’s about the way I felt after 93 minutes of watching
Turistas. Oh, it’s not so bad, really, but it just takes forever to get going. Taking a cue from the aforementioned Hostel, Turistas spends its first hour or so concentrating solely on the talents of its actresses, which have nothing to do with emoting and more to do with their lung capacity (or, more precisely, the size of the chests that house these lungs). Director John Stockwell (Into the Blue) spends a few hectic moments introducing the film’s premise: bright and shiny white 20-somethings meet on a local bus speeding through the boondocks of rural Brazil, just before the wild-eyed, nose-picking, third-world stereotype bus driver skids the vehicle over a cliff. The ‘bright & shinies’ escape and even though it is an estimated 28-hour wait until rescue from the middle of nowhere they wondrously find themselves stranded conveniently near a beach where there just happens to be a full service bar that is happier than can be to serve the light-skinned tourists that amble by.

Bus escapees include Americans Alex (Josh Duhamel; the be-dimpled star of tv’s “Las Vegas”), his well-endowed “little” sister Bea (Olivia Wilde; Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas), and flirty Amy (newcomer Beau Garrett), along with Aussie outdoors expert Pru (Melissa George; Derailed), and Brits boys Finn (Desmond Askew; The Hills Have Eyes) and Liam (Max Brown; True True Lie). They quickly meet up with the equally Aryan-looking Swedish couple Sven (debuting Gustav Roth) and Annika (actually Portuguese television actress Olga Diegues) to frolic, bounce up and down and generally model as many wet t-shirt poses and provocative dance shots as can be
crammed in the next hour before the audience either leaves from prurient satiation or demands that someone be slain from their frustrated bloodlust. Me? I was just hoping something would happen. Unless they feature Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, I find watching ten minutes of young people writhing on the dance floor seems more like at least an hour of sheer boredom, so you can imagine how I felt after an actual hour had passed and the slicing-and-dicing promised in the previews had yet to commence.

Finally, the barkeep, Camila (Andréa Leal; Popstar), pulls the old ‘Mickey Finn’ routine and by morning all the local partiers are long gone, and only the “gringos” remain, sans the Swedes. The rest of the troupe wake up on the beach, hung-over, robbed of everything, clothes, beauty products, hair gel, even their passports are gone, and there is no one anywhere in site to help them out. And to think their parents sent Alex on this trip to be Bea’s chaperone so she wouldn’t get into any trouble. They are both going to be so grounded when they get home, and I don’t care if Alex is 30 years old. He is so busted.

In due time, the group gets corralled like cattle led to slaughter without realizing it by their friendly (?) guide Kiko (Agles Steib; a Brazilian Michael Jackson impersonator, I kid you not) to the lair (it’s always a ‘lair’) of the
local entrepreneur Zamora (Miguel Lunardi; Benjamin) where the plot, more scarce than Britney Spears’ underpants, turns from T&A spectacle to a combined study in anatomy and political science. That’s right. If the target audience, mostly the high school and college age crowd, want real horror they get it in a way they never expected. Somehow, first time writer Michael Ross (who should know better as he previously was the film editor on much scarier fare like 2001 Maniacs and Wrong Turn) decides that his villain should not just be a psycho who likes to cut people up. No, Zamora is a surgeon doing his own version of Doctors without Borders, but with an added ‘and Without Ethics or Scruples’ tacked on the end.

Okay, so I’m warning you right now. Here comes the only salient plot point in
the movie, and so for those who are actually concerned about “spoilers” ruining the experience of seeing this cinematic equivalent of dysentery I’ll just remind you that the movie was ruined for you the second you sat down and the title credits rolled, but, seriously, here is as good a place as any to stop reading this paragraph. Just as in my vision of the reason not to visit Brazil, sure enough, Zamora is taking the lily-white Anglo tourists and using them to give back to his own people, by swiping their internal organs to recycle amongst his own citizenry. Ah, but he has a noble heart. Actually, he has a refrigerator full of them, but I’m actually referring to his own. You see, he is a madman with a purpose: he feels Brazil has been taken advantage of by the industrialized nations such as the US that come in and strip mine, exploit the Brazilian workers, take their natural resources, etc. and leave nothing but poverty and unemployment behind. Somehow, by farming out the kidneys and livers of the Turistas he can recompense the poor and downtrodden of his beloved homeland. Just what everyone wants in the middle of a dissection ~ a political dissertation ~ especially the still-semi-conscious victims who have to listen to this longwinded speech with every surgery. Oy! If only they’d have asked me ahead of time. I’d have told them a nice ski weekend in Vermont would have been infinitely less expensive and way safer too, but kids, do they ever listen?

Clearly the promotable star of this vehicle is Josh Duhamel, who may be headed back to the soaps if this is any indication of how he hopes to steer
his budding movie career. It’s obvious Duhamel looked less at the script than at the appeal of a free trip to Brazil and lots of per diem bonuses when choosing to make Turistas. Maybe he should have stayed in “Las Vegas” and read the whole script. If he had, he might have noticed that it becomes practically non-existent in the last half hour of the movie. He might not have noticed, but I’m sure you will if you go. I found myself doing as Amy is shown in all the pre-release advertising for the film ~ looking into the audience and begging “Please, I just want to go home. Please.”

1 comment:

bosversene said...

thank you