The posters say Turistas Go Home. I say, "Moviegoers stay home."
The marketing made this out to be another film in the tradition of Saw and Hostel. Indeed it was related to that pedigree, for better or worse. For those looking for the splash of the red stuff, it would be best to look elsewhere; for those looking for a good movie, don't even bother considering this mess.
Turistas is a virtual clone of Hostel. It starts with some friends on a vacation in Brazil. Their trip leads them to a bar right on the beach, a bar that is beyond believable, and with good reason. The group is robbed and left on the beach. They go to town, have a run-in with some kids and are led to a secluded house, where all hell breaks loose. Some people die, others live, then the credits roll. Well, that pretty much sums up the story. On with the show.
The movie will keep you waiting on the edge of your seat, waiting for something to happen. There are some things that the filmmakers forgot when they decided to make a horror movie, in particular in the current popular style of the torture film. They forgot the blood. They forgot the scares. They forgot an interesting killer. The list goes on and on.
Split into three acts, Turistas is timed to the 25-30 minute mark. The first third of the movie follows the tourists as a bus crash leads to new friendships which leads to partying on the beach. This ends as they are robbed, leading them to wander around before hooking up with a local who promises safety while they're waiting for help. Part two ends with the arrival of our bad guy with designs on our intrepid tourists.
The third act, where the majority of the action is set, features the only bloody scene (which was already glimpsed during the opening credits). Most of the climactic action takes place during a dimly lit underwater cave chase; it felt like a third rate take on the Descent caves, before ending on a happy note that doesn't have any feeling to it.
I guess it wasn't a complete loss. I did think that Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas) had sufficient charisma as our lead hero, Alex. It did seem like an extension of his Las Vegas character, but it works, the loose humor covering a more serious center. There is also the presence of the lovely Olivia Wilde and Melissa George; they certainly bring an extra something to the screen. It is just too bad it wasn't in a better movie.
This brings me to our bad guy — bad for certain, but not quite as sadistic as he should have been. He is doing what he feels is noble, doing his evil deeds for the good of the third world. He thinks he is trying to restore some level of honor to his country by going about a little organ harvesting from American tourists. The thing is, he goes about it much more humanely than he should — there are plenty of painkillers at work here (including the effect of the movie on the audience).
Some of the scenery looks good, and the opening character introductions actually work pretty well despite going on a bit too long. This could work, in part, as a travelogue for Brazil. Director John Stockwell already made a Jessica Alba travelogue (Into the Blue), so why not move on to a country?
Bottom line. Unless you are an absolute hardcore fan of the genre, or one of the featured actors, this is one you can scratch off of the must see list. Turistas is devoid of scares, thrills, and gore, merely a stand-in until something better comes along.