Set in a remote part of the Brazillian coast, Turistas is a solid horror/thriller film that never got the respect it deserved. All that could change next month when its sequel, Turistas 2: Jungle Fever is released.
Back in 2006, Turistas was viewed as a direct-to-DVD flop. Unfortunately it did not pay for lunch, costing $30 MIL to make yet only grossing $7 MIL in sales. Part of the film’s problem was it entered the market right after Hostel made some noise & the Saw series was still gaining its audience. As a result, many horror fans passed on Turistas at their local Blockbuster Video in favor of something they’d seen in the theaters.
Incidentally, Blockbuster is where I was able to BUY this DVD for a mere $3 today (thanks to that Blockbuster store having a massive “going out of business” sale with DVDs 80% off – the fact that so many Blockbuster stores are going under is a whole other conversation worthy of its own post at some point).
Adding to the movie’s downfall was the fact that some horror fans who actually rented Turistas when it was a new release felt it basically stole its plot from Hostel, further discrediting Turistas (I do not think this is the case, especially based on the release timeline – Turistas came out less than a year after Hostel, so Turistas‘ script was almost certainly well in the works by the time Hostel came out).
Now that it’s 2011 & we’ve had some time to reflect, Turistas shows much better in a 2nd viewing. One reason is the advent of Blu-ray players, which were uber-expensive and just coming into popularity back in 2006. Most Blu-ray players (including my Sony PS3) come with a built-in DVD upconverter. This magically improves the picture on your DVDs from 480p to 720p, enhancing our appreciation for all the great beach panoramas and intense underwater cave scenes in Turistas.
A big reason why those underwater shots look so good is the effort from John Stockwell (Blue Crush, Into The Blue), who puts his experience with aquatic action scenes to good use in this film. Stockwell also produced along with several others, including entreprenaur & Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Yes, that’s right – The Cube had a hand in this sleeping dandy.
The acting is not great, but certainly good. Duhamel & George add suspense with their believable performances, & Wilde had quite a few dramatic underwater moments that left me wondering how even the stunt double (assuming they used one in any of the semi-dangerous scenes) was able to come up for air. Often it seemed the cave shots were all on location where there was very little clearance for the actors to pierce the surface to breathe. This meant they had to make sure they didn’t pop up too high out of the water, or else they’d get a nasty head injury from the cave ceiling or stalactites hanging above!
As for the story, yes it starts out a little like Hostel, but there are several key twists that differentiate Turistas pretty well from the competition. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the villains’ goals in Turistas aren’t the same as the bad guys in Hostel. This is a big deal, b/c it leaves you wondering what will happen to the good guys even if they can be attacked or captured.
Turistas has some great action scenes, and some fantastic special effects for a horror film. Due to its low budget and 2006 release date, it was probably not shot with HD cameras or old school film that can be converted to HD 1080p, so a Blu-ray release is unlikely unless the sequel really drums up some serious interest in re-releasing the original.
So, if you’re looking for an entertaining horror/thriller on DVD that doesn’t run too long, Turistas is a good way to spend 93 minutes.
Verdict: 3 stars
Here’s a brief recap of how The Floor Seats’ 0-4 star rating system breaks down:
0-1 stars: This is an atrocious movie; an insult to film & a waste of your time
1-2 stars: Bad but not awful – avoid unless you’re dying to see it for a particular genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
2.5 stars: Only worth a rental if you really like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
3 stars: Definitely worth a rental unless you hate that type of genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
3.5 stars: Very good but not great – this is a film you should definitely rent & even consider buying if you like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
4 stars: Outstanding & unforgettable – almost certainly 1 of the top 100 greatest films you’ve ever seen. Buy with confidence!