City Paper is not for tourists
A scalpel-wielding Robin Hood is the slasher genre’s latest bwah-ha-ha-er in Turistas, a rip-off of Eli Roth’s 2005 Hostel and an incredible bore. Director John Stockwell and debut scripter Michael Arlen Ross spend an awful lot of time on Turistas’ generic setup: A group of attractive white kids meet in a remote area of Brazil after their lead-footed bus driver nearly kills them (oh, if only). Instead of waiting 10 hours for the next bus to arrive, they wander over to a nearby isolated beach, complete with bar, and get naked there. (“Do you guys mind if I go topless?” asks a blonde who’s forgotten half of her bikini. After the boob scene, the rest of her swimwear magically appears.) Does anyone, especially a horror fan, ever really enjoy watching barely familiar characters—who you want to see get sliced—frolic in Crayola-blue oceans by day and party down by night? They drink, they make out, they dance; the next morning, the tourists wake up to discover they’d been drugged and robbed. A native they’ve befriended, Kiko (Agles Steib), offers to help by taking them on an arduous journey to Uncle Stabby’s house. Turistas is the worst kind of horror movie: Nothing’s outrageously wrong with it, but there’s very little that’s right, either. Among the blank cast members—who include Josh Duhamel and The O.C.’s limited-time lesbian, Olivia Wilde—Melissa George is the only one who doesn’t text it in, making her Australian, world-traveled, Portuguese-speaking Pru likable and sympathetic. The plot itself is a little more unbelievable than your typical bloodbath; for instance, these victims are hopelessly dumb and culturally ignorant, yet all turn out to be expert cave swimmers. The fact that they even end up opting to negotiate their way through underwater hollows is another thing altogether, but as it turns out, these are the best scenes: Stockwell previously helmed Into the Blue and Blue Crush, and he’s an ace at evoking both the gorgeousness and danger of the deep. But back to that scalpel. The killer, who’s introduced too early and already might as well have organ harvester stamped on his forehead, doesn’t make his second appearance for a looong while. Even then, the squirmiest sequence is one been-there operation, a suspense-free gutting that the Discovery Channel could put to shame.