Culture Schlock

Turistas. Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, and Beau Garrett star in a film written by Michael Ross and directed by John Stockwell.

Reviewed by Josef Woodard

As we walked into the theater to get our periodic dose of slasher-style schlock in the form of Turistas, the smart-mouthed ticket-taker quipped, “Okay, two for the Brazilian Hostel.” That’s about right, with a splash of TV’s Fear Factor and some post-Aruba xenophobia thrown in for bad measure.

In the film, much trouble awaits a trio of beautiful, young Americans, a pair of horny Brits, and one intrepid Australian woman (Melissa George, the star of the show), the latter of whom has the good taste to speak Portuguese in this decidedly foreign environment. Opting to take the bus rather than fly through a rough, mountainous part of Brazil, they wind up on a paradisiacal beach, where the film begins to take on an increasingly loud hum of impending doom, possible involuntary surgery, and extended scenes playing to our primal drowning phobia. But wait — there’s lush jungle scenery and nicely sculpted young bodies with which to flaunt and tease us before the nastier bits.

Suddenly, in the midst of a most brainless succession of non-dialogue and a blur of hard bodies traipsing through the jungle, the striking central scene of the movie appears. What makes it memorable is the juxtaposition of methodical grisliness with an actual whiff of a political theme regarding the pillaging of third world countries’ resources, including body parts. At least for a fleeting passage of the movie, it seems this is the antithesis of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-brand random teen torture fest. It’s a cut ’em up with a cause. But then the endless chase scenes begin again, leaving thematic material in the dust.

To its credit, this mostly no-brainer film — made by folks more accustomed to the punier demands of the small screen — is effectively creepy, even if lacking much intelligence or the saving grace of self-effacing humor. And as for Brazilian tourism? To put it into a Web denizen’s context, this is one film that will not inspire you to jump onto Orbitz or MapQuest anytime soon.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Transgender People Allowed to Serve in Military, Judge Rules

The presidential ban was blocked by four federal courts.

Police Suspend Public Sleeping Laws

The non-enforcement comes in response to a new court ruling.

Dyer Returns as Interim Fire Chief

When Eric Peterson steps down, Mike Dyer will fill in for County Fire.

Santa Barbara Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Olympia Competition

At 43, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden ties for the oldest champ in the contest's history.

Renovated Cabrillo Ball Park Now Open

The park got new exercise equipment, multi-use grass turf areas, and an upgraded softball field.