The growing trend in horror is to be as disgusting as possible — the story need not be involved, as long as it includes some form of stainless-steel torture and preferably five to six young backpackers/tourists/campers/other people away from home. While the formula might have proved innovative with some of the earlier films of the genre, the scares are now unbearably canned.
“Turistas” follows a multinational group of twenty-something backpackers who become stranded on an isolated Brazilian beach, populated by only a handful of locals. Of course, as must always be the case in horror, the locals have plans for the young, attractive, scantily-clad travelers; plans that involve the tourists serving as unwilling organ donors to satisfy the demand for black-market transplants.
There’s a lot of buildup to the torture we all know is coming (for us or them?), infusing the first half of the film with a projected sense of dread that’s more dreadful than it is fun. The result is an overriding sense that the film is more sick than scary, more revolting than revealing, more twisted than tantalizing. Horror flicks are meant to be startling and suspenseful, maybe even at times cringe-inducing, but there’s a fine line between horror that’s enjoyable with entertainment value, and horror that’s simply horrible.
Parents should know that besides being nearly unbearably graphic, this film shamelessly copycats many other recent horror films that offer copious scenes of bare skin along with the scares. More than one of the women in the film appears topless, and there is casual kissing and implied prostitution. With a build up that begins with one of the young women begging for her life in the very first scene and continues when the characters find handfuls of prescription drugs and stainless steel surgery equipment later on, the film reaches its climax with a sequence that rivals the Discovery Health Channel in surgery close-ups and soggy internal organs shots. If the thought of navigating multicolored organs in a soup of bright red blood with stainless steel utensils leaves you squeamish when it’s done to help people, it will have you ill when done to harm.
Families who see this film might talk about the differing personalities in the film. Do the young tourists represent stereotypes? Could any of the personalities, such as the levelheaded brother who discourages recklessness and the Australian woman who travels alone and values her independence, be helpful and representative of often-neglected personality types? What are the motivations of the villains, and in what ways do they attempt to justify their actions? Kiko (played by Agles Steib), a young Brazilian entrusted with luring the backpackers to their final destination, finds himself affected by the tourists in a way he did not anticipate. How is this change of heart reflected in the film? What seemed to motivate his evolution from Pied Piper to cohort?
Families who enjoy this film might also enjoy the graphic films by writer/directory Eli Roth, such as Hostel and Hostel: Part II, as well as his semi-comedic 2002 release Cabin Fever.